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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1960

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1960.” You can view other years here.

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TEMPLES, 1960.

1960:  May:  Why are baptisms for dead performed underground?

“Question:  While discussing the doctrines of salvation for the dead, one of the brethren stated that baptism for the dead must be performed in fonts that are below the level of the ground.  If this is so, will you kindly tell us the reason why?  Some of our number could not understand why a baptism for the dead would not be valid no matter where it was performed, even if it was not in a temple.  Will you kindly inform us on this matter?

Answer:  The proper place for baptism for the dead is in a temple built especially for that purpose.  In fact, all of the ordinances in behalf of the dead are to be performed in temples, as are most of the sacred ordinances for the living.  This is the commandment the Lord gave to the Church.  There had been occasions when sacred ordinances were performed outside of temples when there was the emergency and no temple of the Lord.  This is true of the coming of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the manifestation was in a grove.  When there was no sacred temple, the Lord made himself manifest to the prophets of old, in sacred places and most generally on mountaintops.  It was on a mountaintop where the Lord revealed himself to Moses and called him to his great work.  It was on the mountain that our Lord took Peter, James, and John, when they were endowed and received their great vision.  It was on the Mount Horeb where the Lord appeared to Moses and on Shelem (Ether 3:1), where he appeared to the brother of Jared and gave him commandments and showed him his body, and in the wilderness where priesthood was restored in this dispensation because there was no temple.  In cases of emergency the Lord used such places as groves, the wilderness, or the highest mountains there to reveal himself and bestow keys of priesthood to his prophets.

The authorities of the Church were commanded to make haste and build a house to the Lord in Kirtland, where he could come and restore keys of priesthood and of dispensations, this in the days of their poverty.  By sacrifice and under the most trying difficulties the Kirtland Temple was erected, and after its dedication many of the ancient prophets came and bestowed the keys of their dispensations, but there was no provision made in the Kirtland Temple for baptism for the dead nor for any ordinances for the dead.  It was, however, in this sacred house where the keys for the salvation of the dead were conferred and the turning of the key of salvation for the fathers by their children were revealed.

It was not until 1840 that the doctrine of salvation of the dead was fully revealed, and the Saints were taught that this ordinanced could be performed by them in behalf of their dead kindred.  In an epistle to the twelve apostles, who were then in Europe, the Prophet wrote: 

I first mentioned the doctrine in public when preaching the funeral sermon of Brother Seymour Brunson; and have since then given general instructions in the Church on the subject.  The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead, who they believe would have embraced the gospel, if they had been privileged with hearing it, and who have received the Gospel in the spirit, through the instrumentality of those who have been commissioned to preach to them while in prison.  (Essentials in Church History, p. 305)

The privilege was then given to the members of the Church to be baptized for their dead in the Mississippi River.  This privilege continued until the general conference October 3, 1841, when the Prophet said:

There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord’s House; and the Church shall not hold another General Conference, until they can meet in said house, for thus saith the Lord.  (Ibid., p. 310)

On the eighth day of November following, the font in the Nauvoo Temple was dedicated, and baptisms for the dead ceased outside of a temple.  The reason why the font is placed below the surface of the ground is stated by revelation as follows:

Herein is glory and honor, and immortality and eternal life–

The ordinance of baptism by water, to be immersed therein in order to answer to the likeness of the dead, that one principle might accord with the other; to be immersed in water and come forth out of the water is in the likeness of the resurrection of the dead in coming forth out of their graves; hence, this ordinances was instituted to form a relationship with the ordinance or baptism for the dead, being in likeness of the dead.

Consequently, the baptismal font was instituted as a similitude of the grave, and was commanded to be in a place underneath where the living are wont to assemble, to show forth the living and the dead, and that all things may have their likeness, and that they may accord one with another–that which is earthly conforming to that which is heavenly, as Paul hath declared, I Cor. 15:46-48.  (D&C 128:12-13)”

(Joseph Fielding Smith, “Your Question,” IE 63(5):304-305, May, 1960)

27 May:  Suggestion of multiple names for temple work. 

“When you take the full group of General Authorities through the Temple to do work for the dead, each carrying three names with them, you being the leader and the first one to go through with three names for the dead, if it is possible, please let Sister Wood and me attend that session.”  (Wilford C. Wood to David O. McKay, 27 May, 1960.  Bergera notes)

Sep.:  The AP and work for the dead.

“Instructions have recently been issued by the Presiding Bishopric, at the direction of the First Presidency, to the effect that those being baptized for the dead should be twelve years of age or over.

This modification places a new and extremely significant responsibility on the Aaronic Priesthood, for it is anticipated that bearers of this priesthood between the ages of 12 and 21 and girls of comparable age will perform the majority of this ordinance work.  Up to this time, a great deal of it has been done by boys and girls eight to twelve years of age.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 63(9):676, Sep., 1960)

31 Oct.:  Extension of rights to use Fantasia footage.

“Apparently, the Church neglected to follow up on the expiration date of their authorization from Disney Studios.  Eric Larson, an employee of Disney, was notified by the Studio’s legal department during the Summer of 1960 that their authorization had expired 25 May 1960.  On 9 August 1960, Larson informed Elder Richard L. Evans that the contract on the initial permission granted the Church had expired.  Evans immediately forwarded Larson’s letter to Gordon B. Hinckley, remarking, ‘It (Larson’s letter) deserves our best and immediate attention.’  Hinckley received Evans’s memo, dated 11 August 1960, the following day.  He responded one week later, 18 August 1960, and confessed, ‘If we were denied this I don’t know what we would do.  Needless to say we would be put in a very embarrassing situation.’

Larson again wrote Evans on 22 October 1960, suggesting that the First Presidency work directly with Roy Disney.  Based on Larson’s and Evans’s suggesion, the First Presidency wrote Disney Studios on 14 October 1960.  They related that their reason for writing was having been recently informed by a ‘mutual friend, Mr. Eric Larson,’ that ‘the permission we received from you to use a 350 foot excerpt from “The Rites of Spring” for Church purposes on a five year agreement has now expired.’  They continued,

We have been most earnestly grateful for the use of this footage, and our need for it is urgent and will continue to be so into the future as far as we can foresee.

For your information, this brief excerpt is used without identification in small restricted instruction classes, in which it introduces a discussion the creation of the earth.  The public is never invited to these classes; no publicity is ever given, and no admission charge is ever made.  This most excellent footage has become inseparably a part of the brief introduction to this instruction in establishing a mood of reverence and awe for the Creator’s work.

They then requested permission to continue using this footage ‘on a permanent basis if that is possible within your policies, or under any conditions which would seem to you to be fair and acceptable under the aforestated circumstances.’

Their request was put under advisement.  Two weeks following their initial letter, permission was granted to the Church by Vice President Gunther R. Lessing in a letter sent to the First Presidency on 31 October 1960.  Deeply appreciative, the First Presidency expressed their thanks to Gunther and Disney Productions on 9 November 1960.  Their letter is as follows:

Gunther R. Lessing, Vice President

Walt Disney Productions

500 So. Buena Vista Street

Burbank, California

Dear Mr. Lessing:

Our grateful appreciation to you and Mr. Disney and your associates for your most gracious consent for us to continue to use the 350 feet of film footage from ‘The Rites of Spring’ for the purpose which we have previously defined, and for the continued full term period of copyright.

This is a most generous accommodation, and we assure you that it will be used respectfully and constructively, and that the privilege will not be abused or exceeded.

With appreciation and all good wishes.


The First Presidency

That the Disney studios intended to extend the period of authorization is apparently evident in Eric Larson’s letter to Richard L. Evans, dated 22 October 1960.  Larson, in addition to again noting that the date of initial permission had expired, informed Evans that they were somewhat concerned about the condition of the original prints; that they would be willing to provide new prints should an examination reveal the originals in need of repair.

The footage from ‘The Rites of Spring’ was apparently used on a limited basis from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s as the introduction to the temple ceremony.  It was later incorporated as a part of the filmed version of the endowment completed during the early 1960s.  Though an up-dated, stylistically superior production of the temple ceremony was released in the mid-1970s, which did not make use of the excerpt from ‘The Rites of Spring,’ the Disney segment may still be seen in most temples as a part of the older filmed version.  It is likely that in the future this older version will be entirely phased out from the endowment in all temples and be replaced by the newer production.”  (Bergera notes, quoting from letters and memoranda in the Richard L. Evans collection, LDS Archives)

28 Nov.:  Changes in temple recommends.

“Inasmuch as our old supply of temple recommends is exhausted, we are not printing and will soon have ready for distribution, a new stock.  This has afforded us the opportunity of making some changes in the form which we deem will be helpful and beneficial to the work.

Hereafter there will be two forms.  It will be necessary for you to have two books, one form for recommending admission to the temple for vicarious baptism for the dead, to be issued only to children between 12 and 21 years of age; the other form to be used by those who are going to the temple for their own endowments or to do work vicariously for the dead.

In preparing these forms we have had in mind the desirability of using every precaution possible to avoid forgery by those who might seek to enter the temple unworthily, and also to provide forms that would be most convenient for the bishop and the stake president, as well as the workers in the temple.  To provide a safeguard against forgery you will note we are suggesting that the one who signs the recommend, which means the bishop or the branch president or the counselors, as the case may be, will initial each ordinance for which the applicant is being recommended.  The temple workers are reminded by a note at the heading of the recommend to check each recommend to make sure that the initials opposite each ordinance are in the same handwriting as the signer of the recommend.  This will do away with the check mark previously used.

You will note that we have eliminated from section two of the old recommend the space provided ‘for those previously endowed to be present at marriages of children or kinfolk.’  Upon inquiry we learned that there have been frequent instances where individuals who have not been endowed, and in some cases not presently worthy of a regular temple recommend for ordinances, have been given a recommend to witness a marriage.  In place of this practice, which is contrary to the rule of the temple, you will find in these forms the statement ‘any applicant who has been personally endowed and who is presently worthy to do all ordinances for the dead may witness a temple marriage or sealing.’  It is necessary for us all to comply with this rule and to issue no recommends under any other circumstances for persons to witness temple marriages.

We have changed the expiration date from September 30th, which appears on some of the older forms, to July 31st, which is the current expiration date.

On the form for recommending children only we have made an insert to conform to the present ruling of the First Presidency as to the ages of those who are to be baptized for the dead.  We are suggesting that this form be used for all members between the ages of 12 and 21 years, and that the regular Temple recommend be used for recommending members for baptism for the dead only in cases where the individuals are 21 years of age or older.  We think that the comparatively small number of those over 21 doing baptisms for the dead should not necessitate a separate form.

We hope that you will find that these new forms and the initialing rather than checking of the specific ordinances to be performed will not only be helpful and protective to you but to the temple workers also.

It is our desire that no temple recommend should be issued to persons touring the country to enter the temple merely to view the interior.  It is not conducive to temple work to have visitors going through as tourists.

Your consistent adherence to these suggestions will be deeply appreciated.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 28 Nov., 1960; xerox)

Worthiness criteria for temple recommends.

“No person should receive a recommend for any purpose unless he is believed to be worthy in every respect.  Unworthiness disqualifies him.

Before issuing recommends bishops will assure themselves by searching inquiry that the recipients are free from all kinds of immoral practices; that they have no affiliation, in sympathy or otherwise, with any of the apostate groups that are running counter to the established order of the Church; that they sustain the local and General Authorities of the Church; are full tithepayers, or will covenant to become such; that they observe the Word of Wisdom, abstaining from tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor [note the subtle shift since GHI 1944]; and that they are fully worthy as evidenced by their observance of the whole gospel law including abiding by all conditions of their temple obligations.

Where applicants are not keeping the commandments, they should prove themselves through a probationary period before the recommend is issued.  Every person must be adjudged worthy for a recommend each time he applies for one.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, pp. 65-66)

Only 1st Pres. may waive “one-year rule.”

“A bishop, branch or mission president will not certify to the worthines of a person to receive a temple recommend, unless the person has been a member of record of his ward, branch, or mission for at least one year, and is otherwise considered worthy.  Only the First Presidency may authorize an exception to this rule.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, p. 66)

Expiration date of recommends.

“Temple recommends expire July 31 of each year.  New recommends are required after that date.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, p. 66)

No endowments for women married to non-members.

“Under no circumstances will a recommend be issued for endowments to a wife whose husband is not a member of the Church.  This rule does not prevent such a worthy wife, whose husband is willing, from participating in baptisms for the dead in the temples.

Women who received their own endowments before this rule was given, or who were endowed before being married even though married to non-members, may still be granted the privileges of going through the temple if they are worthy.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, p. 67)

Witnessing marriages or viewing interior of temple.

“Persons witnessing marriages or viewing the interiors of dedicated temples must have recommends.  Recommends are to be granted only to those who have received their own endowments, and all of the requirements of personal worthiness must be met.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, p. 67)

Recommends for divorced persons.

“No divorced person, man or woman, is to receive a temple recommend until and unless the facts of the divorce have been submitted by the bishop to the First Presidency, and the bishop receives back from the First Presidency, a letter authorizing the issuance of such a recommend and on condition of worthiness as developed in a careful interview by the bishop and stake presidency.  Bishops should make sure that in the case of a divorced person being recommended for temple marriage, a final divorce decree has been secured; and if the individual was married in the temple previously that a cancellation of sealing has been granted in the case of a woman.  However, a man married in the temple who has had a civil divorce but not a cancellation of sealing may be recommended for temple marriage without first having the previous sealing annulled if he is fully worthy and if his divorce has been cleared by the First Presidency.

Bishops should conduct a thorough, searching interview of men and women seeking recommends to marry a second time in the temple.  They should inquire into the basis of the divorce, know whether there have been more divorces than one, seek to learn where the fault lay, and issue the recommend only if they are convinced that the applicant is wholly worthy.

Whenever a divorced person applies for a recommend to the temple, the bishop shall make careful, but discreet and courteous inquiry into the causes that led to the divorce proceedings, and the grounds on which the divorce was granted, and report these in writing to the president of the stake who shall supplement the bishop’s investigation if he feels such a course wise.  Particular care should be exercised when the applicant for the recommend is the party whose conduct is the basis for the divorce.

Before the recommend is issued the case, with an accompanying statement of the facts elicited by the bishop or president of stake, should be referred to the First Presidency for their consideration and action, either of approval or disapproval of the issuing of the temple recommend.  In cases where a temple divorce has been granted or applied for, the First Presidency may have facts which the party applying for the recommend may not have disclosed.

The instruction relates to all persons who have had divorces, no matter when the divorce occurred, even prior to joining the Church, and no matter whether or not they have since received recommends to go into the temple.

The bishop of the ward should make his investigation and write a letter giving the results thereof to the president of the stake.  The bishop’s letter to the president of the stake should, whenever possible, contain a short statement signed by the person making the application, covering specifically the matters mentioned in the paragraphs below.

The president of the stake should likewise make an investigation, personally whenever possible, and either approve or disapprove the recommendation of the bishop of the ward.  Both bishops and presidents of stakes should do more than merely endorse a letter of the applicant.

The president of the stake should forward the completed file to the First Presidency.  A separate letter should be written concerning each applicant.

The essential information that should be sent to the First Presidency from the bishop and the president of the stake should relate to the divorce and the circumstances attending it.  In the matter of the divorce the essential thing to be explained is whether or not there was upon the part of the one seeking the recommend any infidelity or other serious transgression.

Both the bishop and the president of the stake should make definite statements of their own feelings and impressions on these matters after their interviews with the applicants.  This information should be sent to the First Presidency irrespective of the fact that their office may have a record having to do with a sealing cancellation.

The Church has always looked with disfavor upon divorce, and has discouraged it strongly.

The present worthiness is a matter for the determination of the bishop and president of stake, acting in their sound discretion.

The work in the First Presidency’s office is of such a character and quantity that it will take time to process these various applications that are made, and the applications should be made with this fact in mind.

Applications should be in the hands of the First Presidency at least three weeks before it is planned to use the recommend.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, pp. 67-69)

Who needs recommends for sealing to parents?

“Sons and daughters over 21 years of age must receive their own endowments before being sealed to parents.  Children under 8 require no recommend for sealing to parents, but date and place of birth are required for the temple record.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, p. 69)

Calls to do temple work not approved.

“Worthy Church members should be encouraged to get recommends and do temple work, but they should not be called on ‘missions’ to the temples to perform ordinances by proxy for the dead.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, p. 70)

Reversal of policy on weddings in ward chapels.

“Marriage is one of the most sacred ordinances of the Church.  It should not be performed before the gaze of the world.  When couples are not to be married in the temple, a little discreet counsel from bishops might lead them to have the ceremony performed in the home of one or the other of those being married.  A good home is the next most sacred place to the temple.

Marriage ceremonies may hereafter be performed in chapels in stakes or missions.  This permission is given with the understanding that local officers will be able to persuade the young people and their families to dispense with most, if not all, the formal practices that pervade the weddings in sectarian churches.

Elaborate weddings are discouraged.  The use of candles and other worldly additions to the ceremony should not be permitted in Church buildings.  Wedding receptions may be held in recreation halls.  Civil marriage for Church members should be performed by Church rather than civil officials.

In some places there are commercial chapels used solely for the performance of marriage ceremonies.  Their use by Church members is discouraged.  Permission is granted, however, for our authorized Church officials to perform marriage ceremonies in them.  It is recommended that in such cases the couples concerned be encouraged to come to the home of the bishop or other Church officer to have the ceremony performed.  Couples to be married should be interviewed by the one chosen to perform the ceremony and ceremonies should not be performed at unusual hours of the night.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, pp. 72-73)

Sealings after civil marriages.

“Permission may be granted to couples who have been married by civil law to have their marriages solemnized in the temple at such time as the stake president and bishop feel assured of their personal purity and worthiness and of their genuine desire for the blessings of the House of the Lord.

Where parents are not eligible to enter the temple, and yet insist on witnessing the wedding ceremony of their son or daughter, bishops must apply to the First Presidency for permission if it is desired to hold a civil ceremony first, to be followed shortly afterward by the sealing in the temple.  Special permission of the First Presidency in each instance of this kind is required.

Where couples deliberately refuse temple marriage for reasons of their own, and afterward desire a sealing, they should be asked to wait for at least a year in which to demonstrate their sincerity and worthiness to receive this blessing.

If an unmarried couple, worthy of temple marriage, yet living at a considerable distance from a temple, desires to travel unaccompanied from their homes to the temple, it may be thought advisable that they have a civil marriage before leaving home, though only a few days may intervene between the civil ceremony and the sealing in the temple.

Couples who have associated together illicitly should not be recommended to the temple until they have satisfied their bishops that they have thoroughly repented, and have shown their repentance by living righteously for a prolonged period of time.  Mere sorrow is not repentance.  It is urged that the desirability of temple marriages be emphasized continually.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, pp. 74-75)

Dissolution of temple marriages.

“Any request to have a temple marriage annulled must come before the President of the Church for action.  It must recite the detailed facts and circumstances on which the request is based and be accompanied by the recommendation of the bishop and stake president of the person applying.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, p. 75)

Restoration of former blessings.

“Application for the restoration of former blessings to men and women who have been excommunicated and who have been returned to the Church by baptism and confirmation should be submitted to the President of the Church.  These blessings may be restored only upon his authority.

When such applications are approved, a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, upon receiving authority from the President of the Church, will restore all or part of the former blessings as directed by the President of the Church.

The former blessings restored are those related to the endowment and the priesthood held by the excommunicant at the time of the excommunication.  Excommunicated men who have not had their endowments receive and advance in the priesthood by ordination as in the first instance.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, pp. 109-110)

Prayer circles forbidden.

“Group prayers in which those participating, sometimes kneeling and sometimes standing, arrange themselves in a circle and then hold each other’s hands while the prayer is being offered should not be held.  Where groups are assembled together for prayers, these should be offered in the ordinary way in which we offer prayers in our public services.  This ruling does not exclude groups from kneeling in prayer on proper occasions, but it is intended to exclude all simulations of the regular sacred prayer circle.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18–1960, p. 115)