Skip to comments.A Mormon Mason: New grand master is the first in a century who is LDS
Posted on 04/03/2008 8:28:09 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
It's been nearly a quarter of a century since Freemasons in Utah rescinded a 60-year ban that prohibited Latter-day Saints from joining their fraternity. And while many remember the religious division that had characterized Freemasonry in the Beehive State from pioneer times, Glen Cook believes he is evidence that things are changing among his Masonic brethren. Cook, a Salt Lake criminal defense attorney and Brigham Young University law school graduate, is believed to be the first member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be elected grand master in Utah in nearly a century, overseeing the activities of several lodges around the state and looking to make the group more open to public understanding.
During a recent tour of the Masonic Temple in downtown Salt Lake City following his installation in February, Cook said there are definite misconceptions about Freemasonry in Utah, particularly among Latter-day Saints, "but there's also some reality there as well."
Church founder Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were members of the Masonic lodge in Nauvoo, Ill., in the early 1840s, and historians have written in detail about the role of fellow Masons in the murder of the two men in June 1844. Smith's successor, President Brigham Young, and the three succeeding presidents of the church all were made Masons in the Nauvoo Lodge, as were many who presided in church hierarchy during and following Joseph Smith's death.
After leaving the Midwest for what was then the Utah Territory, most Latter-day Saints eventually ceased active involvement with Freemasonry, despite the fact that lodges were chartered here beginning in 1859. Cook said he thinks pioneer Latter-day Saints simply were too busy trying to build a city in the desert and serving their church to participate. Some historians have speculated about whether Freemasonry was discouraged by LDS leaders.
Whether or not that was the case, religious tension within the organization escalated to the point that, in 1925, "the Utah Grand Lodge Code precluded any Mormon ... totally from any relationship whatsoever" with Masonry in Utah, according to author Mervin Hogan's 1978 book, "The Origin and Growth of Utah Masonry and Its Conflict With Mormonism."
That provision of the code remained in force until 1984, when it was rescinded.
Freemasonry is not a religious practice, but confusion about what it is stems in part from the fact that the fraternity is believed by many historians to have originated in the ancient world because its symbols and rituals bear some similarity to sacred ceremonies that existed among the Egyptians, Coptic Christians, Israelites and even the Catholic and Protestant liturgies all thought to have some common biblical source.
Many believe it originated with the stone masons who worked on Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, though no definitive evidence of that legend is known to exist. Others speculate that its tenets were had by Enoch, and possibly by Adam. Scholars have documented evidence that institutional Masonry dates back only to the Middle Ages, when great European cathedrals were being built by guilds of stone masons who practiced "the craft."
Cook said the fact that membership requires belief in a supreme being and a willingness to make obligations to fellow Masons through Masonic rituals and symbols that bear some limited similarity to LDS temple ceremonies also foster a misunderstanding of what the fraternity is, and is not.
"There is no question that elements of the (LDS temple) endowment and Masonic ritual are similar," Cook said. "The question for faithful Latter-day Saints is whether that makes a difference. I tend to be a rather concrete thinker."
For those who accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and believe he actually saw God and Jesus Christ in vision as a precursor to restoration of Christ's ancient church, "then the rest, I would suggest, should be a corollary" of that belief.
"I think sometimes we spend too much time worrying about issues that don't really matter to our salvation."
Nothing in LDS faith or practice precludes Latter-day Saints from becoming Masons, he said, though family and church obligations may limit the amount of time Mormon men can spend in other pursuits like Masonry.
"Freemasonry should be an adjunct to your faith and not a barrier to its exercise," Cook said. "I tell people that the only secrets we have are modes of recognition and the passwords. For those, you have to look on the Internet."
The "Encyclopedia of Mormonism" addresses questions about the faith's view of the fraternity, noting "the philosophy and major tenets of Freemasonry are not fundamentally incompatible with the teaching, theology and doctrines of the Latter-day Saints. Both emphasize morality, sacrifice, consecration and service, and both condemn selfishness, sin and greed. Furthermore, the aim of Masonic ritual is to instruct to make truth available so that man can follow it."
The ritual resemblances between the two "are limited to a small proportion of actions and words," according to the encyclopedia, and "where the two rituals share symbolism, the fabric of meanings is different."
Cook said he sees signs within the Utah fraternity that a new openness is developing toward the community at large, and toward Latter-day Saints in particular, evidenced not only by his recent installation in ceremonies that were open to the public, but also in a willingness to acknowledge the faith in ways it hasn't previously been recognized.
On Feb. 2, during meetings before his formal installation took place, Cook said "a seasoned brother came to me and said, 'We should have a moment of silence for (deceased LDS Church) President (Gordon B.) Hinckley,"' as his funeral was taking place. "At 11 a.m., the grand master called the Grand Lodge of Utah to silence for that."
Later in the day, as members were having lunch together in the Masonic Temple downtown, someone mentioned that President Hinckley's funeral cortege would be passing their building shortly. "A group of Masons gathered on the front steps for that, not limited by religion, and stood with their hands over their hearts as the cortege passed," Cook said.
"I think those three things really signaled to me the change that has come about. ... I think LDS culture has changed, and that today, civic activities are not inappropriate."
As for what he plans to emphasize during his term as the 137th grand master of Utah, Cook said he will focus on the fraternal tenets of brotherly love, belief and truth.
"I find Freemasonry to be something at which to marvel, to be something which I view in awe," Cook wrote in a recent message published in a fraternal newsletter. "In a world in which men war and shed the blood of the innocent based on race, ethnicity and tribe, we have united ... without regard to the color of a man's skin, caring only about the tenor of his heart."
In short, Masons "are men who try to lead moral and upright lives. They contribute significantly not only on a private basis, but in a public way" as well, he said, noting they fund Shriner's Hospital for Children, help with arthritis research and other community causes.
"It's the place where I've found friends, men who have cared for me and my family and hold the moral values that I hold."
There was significant involvement in my grandfathers funeral. The minister got into a bit of a disagreement during the graveside service with the Free Masons and made the coment "God has the last word." The leader of the Free Masons shot back with, "No, the Masons have the last word."
There is no doubt that Freemasonry is a religion (cult), even if some of the members don't realize it. Sort of like Mormonism.
> There is no doubt that Freemasonry is a religion (cult), even if some of the members don’t realize it. Sort of like Mormonism.
Freemasonry is not a religion, neither is it a cult. Any resemblance to LDS practises can best be explained by the fact that Joseph Smith was a Mason and had access to our rituals and secrets.
Oh, and I am a Committed Christian and a Mason (3d)
*DieHard the Hunter, MM*
There is no doubt that Freemasonry is a religion (cult), even if some of the members don’t realize it. Sort of like Mormonism.
These threads are always interesting for me . As for religion I keep it simple . God has 1 name . God . His son died for our sins , the virgin birth , the resurection , the 10 Commandments , the 2nd coming .
And of course I try to live my life as close to these Commandments as possible . Looking forward to the rest of the replies .
Cool. One cult ends discrimination against another cult.
Ms. T ? You seem to have a depth of knowledge about such things . Please excuse me for barging in on you like this .
> There was significant involvement in my grandfathers funeral. The minister got into a bit of a disagreement during the graveside service with the Free Masons and made the coment “God has the last word.” The leader of the Free Masons shot back with, “No, the Masons have the last word.”
There is nothing in Masonic ritual that requires the Masons to have the last word at a funeral. Quite the contrary, they are to fit in with the graveside ritual and take their cue from the officiating minister “at an appropriate moment.”
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> Cool. One cult ends discrimination against another cult.
What an unpleasant and unnecessary thing to say.
Jump and Shout believer no doubt.
Duly eye-balled. Thanks for the ping.
George Washington was a cultist?
Wow, only 3 posts till the Mason bashing started
I figured it would start with the 2nd post.
There is no doubt here that you don't know what you are talking about.
There is a lot of very inaccurate information out there, but rest assured that it is not a religion or cult. Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It demands of its members belief in a Supreme Being, but provides no system of faith of its own. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at its meetings.
If true, that’s completely incorrect under masonry.
As a 33 Scottish Rite AND Sir Knight Templar AND former WM of multiple blue lodges, I know what masonry is about, and (with possible exception of Knight Templars, which is expressly Christian and requires a Christian obligation, in the name of Jesus the Christ, to defend Christianty), the masons are not remotely a religious organization.
Don’t forget all the Baptists ministers who founded Baylor University.
And the guy who wrote the Pledge of Allegence.
And Chesty Fuller.
And the minister who founded the Salvation Army.
The guys who founded the Boy Scouts
You know, it’s a sin to bear false witness.
I am somewhat suprised.
The founders of Mormonism were members of the masonic fraternity and basically lifted the entire “ritual” practice of their relgion (right down to secret handshakes)from the fraternal rituals.
This made Smith, et al, oath breakers of the worst kind.
Moreover, twisting the fraternity into a gnostic religion is abhorent to the principles of freemasonry.
That said, it’s not the current mormon members’ fault what their founders did, I suppose, and mormons are generally good men of sound character (Romney and Dingy Harry Reid excepted).
Ain't that the truth.
Yep - George Washington along with thirteen other Presidents of the US were “cultists”, along with thousands of those who made this Country great.
Yes freemasonry is a religious organization... I don’t know the details but from what I recall it sounds pretty esoteric and strange to me. My godparents were members of the order of the Eastern Star, another fraternal organization. The husband was a Shriner also. They were my sponsors because my parents didn’t know any better at that time.
I trust Ken Silva and he has an article on it here:
these others I just glanced at but might be worth checking out too.
btw even Oprah is becoming a cult with her spiritual nonsense with Eckhardt Tolle and Marianne Williamson etc.
Nuts! Christians have NO discernment anymore and the church is full of tares.
It has no dogma or theology (and by forbidding religious discussion at its meetings will not allow a Masonic dogma to develop).
It offers no sacraments.
It does not claim to lead to salvation, by works, secret knowledge, or any other means (the secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with modes of recognition, not with salvation)
Freemasonry is far from indifferent to religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith, and to place his duty to God above all other duties. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.
Maybe so. It always seemed pretty weird to me that Washington performed some sort of pseudo-religious ceremony involving corn, wine, and oil while laying the cornerstone of the capitol.
I joined the masons as a Jew and converted to Christianity -— and never did the lodge blink (or even know or care).
“It always seemed pretty weird to me that Washington performed some sort of pseudo-religious ceremony involving corn, wine, and oil while laying the cornerstone of the capitol.”
Yeah, I think Washington was an . . . Anglican! Cultist!
(The cornerstone ritual orginated with the Bishop of Salsbury.)
Ms P - Ken Silva is full of it, I’ve been a Master Mason for 22 years. All of you experts and cult kooks make me laugh.
Thanks for the ping, UB. :-)
get to the higher levels and then come back and say that.
Are you SURE about that?? I thought truth was open to interpretation?
Isn’t that what the conspiracy theorists always say. You just don’t know because you aren’t high enough in the ‘conspiracy’?
It’s amazing how people who routinely answer me with “that’s your interpretation” seem so sure of their own. sigh.
Ok. So what’s your representation of Christianity then? Give me the gospel.
The Nicene Creed is a good representation of my Gospel.
Christ is the Son of God and died for the redemption of mankind.
You don’t know what you are talking about....which is pretty much the usual around here.
We are really a cult now! /sarcasm
and I'll quote from this Freemason book:
"Freemasonry is something much wider than a school of purely moral instruction, as becomes manifest when we study the second and third degrees, which to a large extent consist of mystical teaching of a more complex and spiritual nature than that usually designated by the term, "moral instruction."
The true significance of the above quoted phrase lies in the fact that is given to an E.A. , and the first degree teaching the important lesson that spiritual progress is only possible to those who have conformed rigidly to the moral law. Indeed, it is only when the apprentice has satisfied his instructors that he has made himself acquainted with the principles of moral truth and virtue that he is permitted to extend his researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science."
"Now, "the hidden mysteries of nature and science" are clearly something quite different from the principles of moral truth and virtue. These, we are told, form a necessary qualification for advancement in the search for further knowledge, and this fact should put us on our guard against assuming that Freemasonry is a peculiar system of morality, and nothing more."
"Let us, however, consider the phrase in more detail, for at first sight it strikes us as unusual in form. Many students have jumped to the conclusion that it indicates that the morality of Freemasons is peculiar, but even a cursory glance through the rituals, not only of the first but also of the second and third degrees, reveals nothing at all unusual in the type of morality taught. It is, indeed, hardly distinguishable from the ordinary code of morality proclaimed by all the various Christian churches."
"What is peculiar however is that much of it is taught by allegories and symbols instead of by didactic phrases. Not that the latter are entirely lacking, but in so far as they exist they do not fall under the terms of this definition, and although well desrving of study are obviously for the most part 18th century additions."...
Thus at the very commencement of our Masonic career we are taught in a peculiar way, by means of allegory and symbol, that the moral laws are not man-made conventions but Divine commands, which man should be able to recognise as such by means of the Divine Light within him."
Scripture says these rituals are of no use and are in fact detrimental and insulting to God, who alone sanctifies through his Word. We are also told there is no Divine anything in us other than being created in the image of God, that we the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? These Biblical teachings are incompatible with Freemasonry. Or did you two skip degrees 1-3?
Of course, that's "just my (and quite a lot of others') interpretation." I guess if I wanted I could try and make those words I quoted mean something else. In fact, when I hear "that's your interpretation" I'm going to interpret it to mean "Why, you're right terriergal!"
Only the TRUTH will set you free. If you aren't sure you have it, you probably don't. (the converse is not equally true)
So why are you looking to that Divine inner light?
check the post where I quote a Freemason site about how religious it is.
Yeah no one likes to admit it when they are told.
But Quakers are too (inner light etc) - the Freemason literature I have read reeks of the Colossian heresy that Paul condemned in that book: Rituals, moralism, etc.
Sorry to disappoint you. Wouldn’t phase me a bit for someone to call me a member of a cult, because I know it’s not true.
Jeez, imagine if he had been made the head of the Stonecutters...
To understand Christ's commandments, Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, and mind; love your neighbor as yourself. How do we love our neighbor? How do we treat our fellow man? How do we best serve? In all things in life, we learn the lessons from the lives of others. We know how to build a house because others before us have built houses and, through trial and error, have learned to build better houses. We each should not have to learn to build a house from scratch, instead, we should learn the lessons from those who came before us the best way to build the house.
How should we treat our neighbor, what is loving our neighbor? Should we start from scratch or should we learn the lessons from those who came before us?
As for ‘ritual’, how did you learn math? Were you given a bunch of instructions and told just to do it or, were you given word puzzles, rhymes, and other tools to help you remember the tables?
I don’t purify myself or sanctify myself by ritual. Religious ritual is not the same as rote.
To learn these things I read my Bible, I don’t pledge myself to any organization and thereby yoke myself to their authority, giving them the power to tell me whether I can ‘progress’ to the next degree of membership.
Christ forbade making such vows and enslaving yourself, with the exception of marriage, which was instituted by him. This kind of thing is EXACTLY what is going on in the apostate evangelical church these days, thinking that by getting people to make vows and follow stricter and stricter membership guidelines (dues/tithes, DOING more and more for the church programs, etc.) that that is what makes them more spiritually mature and sanctified. It completely fails to do that.
God, through his control of life’s events, and by our submission to His word alone (granted you may seek advice from good pastors/teachers but are never to be bound to them by a formal oath, what if they go off the rails or turn out to be false teachers?), the Word Alone is how the Holy Spirit works. The only ‘rituals’ if you want to call them that, which were instituted by Christ are the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, and there is much disagreement on those as well, and just what they accomplish.
I truly don’t want to denigrate my friends who are masons. I just see that there *are* religious elements that are incompatible with Christianity. I also see many so called Christian churches (see your other thread on Churchianity) who are teaching and doing things incompatible with Christianity.