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I tried to track down the reference for my piece at BCC, but I'm pretty sure that Brigham tried to reinstitute the Lodge in Utah but was rebuffed. I think he also petitioned the United Grand Lodge of England, but to no avail. Had he succeeded then we might still all be Masons the way our young men are also Boy Scouts.

Ronan, I think you're right about Brigham's efforts. I think there's a bit on it in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

Also, if I understand correctly, there was a huge amount of animosity between the Utah Masons and the Church for a great part of the twentieth century.

Contrary to the source you have cited, of the fifty-six signatories of the Declaration of Independence, only nine can definitely be identified as Freemasons, while ten others may possibly have been.

It is also often claimed that most of the members of the constitutional conventions were masons. But only 13 of the 55 delegates were ever verifiably Masons, and only 11 of them were masons at the time of the convention.

In the jounal of discourses Brigham Young says that the Masons rejected them because of polygamy and notes the irony that Soloman was a polygamist.

Jonathan, what percentage of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons doesn't seem like the kind of fact that should be in dispute between various scholars who have published on the topic. Unless perhaps Masons at the time were discouraged from revealing their affiliation publicly, so researchers instead resorted to guesswork as to which signers were actually Masons and which were simply friends and associates of active Masons but not Masons themselves.

I'm an East Coast Mormon, and a few years back a nice neighbor hand delivered a formal written invitation to investigate Masonry. To be polite, and out of some curiosity, my wife and I went to the meeting. In some chit chat with them after the meeting, I confessed I was somewhat reluctant to get involved having been born Catholic and now being a Mormon, and I was aware of conflicts between the Masons and both groups. They seemed perplexed by my attitude. Do I have a hang-up about this that I shouldn't?

Jonathan, a quick tour of online information sources (which I tend to weight by the style and tone of the writing, as wackos have a hard time sounding like scholars or even like well-informed, reasonable people) suggests 8 or 9 confirmed Masons among the 56 Declaration signers, with 10 to 20 who might or might not have been Masons. It strikes me as odd that there are so many "maybes."

It's also the case that marginal groups like to claim famous people as members or associates, so Masons seem to claim everyone who was anyone in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It's not surprising the Masonic community hypes the idea that almost all of the signers were Masons. Unitarians are good at this too.

Steve, I think that it is likely that if you have hang-ups about the Masons, it is likely that they stem from anti-Masonic Catholic teachings of your youth rather than from Latter-day Saint prejudices. It is true that after the lodge in Nauvoo didn't help JS out in his moments of need, JS was disaffected by Masonry and railed somewhat against it. But as Dave points out, five of our first Presidents of the Church were Masons.

The Catholic Church has traditionally been rather anti-Masonic. In the late eighteenth century, the Pope issued a Bull prohibiting Catholics from being Masons. This is blamed, to some extent, for the decline of Masonry in the Austrian Enlightenment.

John. One of my own hangups about the freemasons has to do with one of the words - a name from the bible - used in their ceremonies in connection to a master mason. Perhaps the reports of the cermony I have read are incorrect. Looking at the bible alone, the name is less troublesome, but in light of the additional information we have in the Pearl of Great Price (Moses 5:44-55) it bothers me.

Yes, that is rather disconcerting. Some of those who subscribe to naturalistic views of the origins of Mormonism and our scriptures would say that JS put that in there as a deliberate hit against the Masons after the Nauvoo lodge had its difficulties.

John Fowles, I thought the Book of Moses was done in 1830-31. Is there evidence that the passage in question was created/changed in the Nauvoo era? (There's a recent critical edition, right?)

Indeed the Book of Moses dates to the early 1830s and Joseph wasn't a Mason until 1842. People who tend to naturalistic explanations suggest that the Book of Mormon and indeed the Book of Moses is infused with anti-Masonic rhetoric.

Ronan, there's a problem dating "the Book of Moses," namely that there wasn't one. The Pearl of Great Price (first published in 1851 in England) pulled together a variety of published materials extracted from Times and Seasons (the paper, not the weblog), some of which were grouped together as "the Book of Moses," but they don't even purport to have all come from the same ancient document. What was presented as "the Book of Moses" apparently came from Times and Seasons issues published on November 1, 1840 and January 16, 1843, according to this description of Times and Seasons contents. The dating of when the material first published in the Times and Seasons was first written in manuscript (pre-publication) form is therefore not easy to nail down. If I can dig up something more specific, I'll post it later.

One should note that while Joseph wasn't a mason until later, members of his family were. Further there was enough anti-Masonic rhetoric around that one could easily know the basic conceptions of masonry.

What you refer to in Moses though is even more explicit in the live endowment ceremonies up through '91. There certain markings used by masons are attacked as a false priesthood. One should note that was probably done by Brigham Young in Utah though.

I just found this article. I am a Freemason in Salt Lake City, as well as an [inactive] Mormon. Joseph's Smith's involvement in the occult has always fascinated me, particularly his involvement in Freemasonry.

One should note that while Joseph wasn't a mason until later, members of his family were. Further there was enough anti-Masonic rhetoric around that one could easily know the basic conceptions of masonry.

This is true. In fact, Hiram [Hyrum Smith] was a Mason long before Joseph ever joined the Craft. In fact, Hiram [Hyrum] was more active within the craft. Also intriguing to me is the resemblance of the Royal Arch degrees of the York Rite of Freemasonry to the temple ceremony. The Royal Arch degrees, chronologically anyway, come before in between the 2nd and 3rd degrees of the blue lodge.

I also can't help but wonder if when the prophet was falling from the window at the Carthage jail, crying, "Oh, Lord, my God," it was his intention to cry, "Oh Lord, my God, is there no help for the Widow's Son?" The distress call of Masons.

Finally, Masonry was a part of Joseph's life from the beginning. At one point of his life, he lived only 9 miles away from Batavia, New York. Batavia was home of the famous anti-Mason William Morgan (Google it). After Morgan's death, Joseph took his widow as one of his wives. Joseph's involvement with Masonry is not the root of my inactivity, but the topic enthralls me nonetheless.

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Thanks for the comments, Rob. I added the accepted spelling after your references to Hyrum Smith so readers wouldn't be confused. And I found your own post recounting an open house at the SLC Masonic temple to be interesting.
-- Dave

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