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MORMONISM AND MASONRY

In 1839 the Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, under the leadership of Joseph Smith, the author of their Book of Mormon, purchased land in Illinois at the village of Commerce, and re-christened it Nauvoo. The Saints came in large numbers. Among them were a number of Masons under the leadership of Dr. John C. Bennett, Heber C. Kimball, and Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith's brother. On October 15, 1841, Grand Master Jonas, Illinois, issued a dispensation for a Lodge October 15, 1842, and personally constituted it March 15, 1842. This was less than one year after Joseph Smith married his first plural s if e, "the first instance of the practice of polygamy" in the United States. (Bennett later became a violent opponent of the Mormons.)

When-so we learn from Smith's own journal-the new Lodge installed its officers in an open grove, before a large crowd, Joseph Smith acted as Grand Chaplain, though not a Mason. He and one Sidney Rigdon were that day "made Masons at Sight." Upon this, Bodley Lodge, No. 1, of nearby Quincy, Ill., sent a resolution to Grand Lodge asking for an investigation. On August 11, less than six months after he had issued the Dispensation, Grand Master Jonas suspended it; between the two dates Nauvoo Lodge had Initiated 286 Candidates, and "Raised" 256. After it had reformed itself the Lodge was on November 2, 1842, permitted to resume labor.

The Saints took in new members in such droves, that by October 3, 1843, there were five Mormon Lodges: Nauvoo, Nye and Helen, in Nauvoo; Keokuk, U. D.; and Rising Sun, No. 12, at Nontrose. Keokuk and Montrose were in Iowa Territory. Grand Lodge OD that date listened to complaints about the scandalous irregularities in the practices of these Lodges, no one of which had made reports to Grand Lodge or appeared in it to answer questions; Grand Lodge suspended the five, and ordered them to return their Dispensations, Charters, and Records. But the Lodges continued to work in defiance of the Grand Lodge and "made" Masons by the thousands. A detailed record may be found in the Grand Lodge Proceedings of Illinois for 1843,1844, 1845, and 1846. On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith and his Brother Hyrum were murdered by a mob at Carthage, Ill. After Brigham Young had taken the place of Joseph Smith, and had moved the Church to Utah, the Latter Day Saints renounced and denounced Masonry, forbade Mormons to be Masons, and have been actively Anti-Masonic ever since.

See Mormoism and Masonry, by S. H. Goodwin; Salt Lake City; 1921. In 1935 a Mormon wrote a "reply" to it (How can a man "reply" to a set of written records?): Mormonism and Masonry by E Cecil McGavin; The Deseret News; Salt Lake City Another reply, and "as full of 'whoppers' as the yarns about Paul Bunyan," is The Relationship of Mormonism and Freemasonry; Deseret News Press; 1934. The Story of the Mormons, by William Alexander Linn: Macmillan, New York; 1923, contains a section on Nauvoo.

NOTE:

Mormon theologians have had a task unique in the history of Biblical criticism and exegesis, and which has been more than once smiled at by other theologians familiar with the secrets of their own craft: the Mormons has had to prove that Joseph Smith did write The Bool; of Mormon, else he was not the Prophet of their Revelation or the head of their Church; they also have had to prove that he did not write it, because he himself declared that he had found the Book already written! In a brochure on Mormonism and Anti-Masonry written as a sequel to his ,Mormonism and Masonry, Bro. S. H. Goodwin (Grand Secretary, Utah) proved that the Book of Mormon contained a sizeable number of words and phrases coined by Anti-Masonic stump-speakers and writers which were current in Joseph Smith's early years in New York, these findings added another problem to the Mormon theologians' already too onerous task: if the Book of Mormon had been written in heaven by an angel how had this Anti-Masonic jargon gotten into the sacred Book?

- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry


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