Mormon LDS Temple Bishop Recommends
Temple recommends, which worthy Mormons may receive from their bishops, and are also signed by their stake presidents are mandatory for admittance into the Mormon temple. Endowment ceremonies, marriages, baptism for the dead, and other sealing ceremonies are performed. “The ‘temple recommend’ is a cherished slip of paper that gives its holder the right to enter the LDS temple and participate in its ceremonies. Mormons ‘pass stringent demands of dietary laws, tithing, sexual orthodoxy and others requirements for a ‘temple recommend’. These recommends are printed forms which, when filled out by the bishop, provides a copy for the Mormon church headquarters files, one copy for the ward’s records, and a third for the holder to present at entrance of a temple for admission.”
“Since the church believes that one must be ‘temple worthy’ in order to attain the Celestial Kingdom, having the power to grant or withhold recommends gives the local bishops immense power. Furthermore, in predominantly Mormon areas the lack of a recommend can often mean the loss of a job or being shunned by one’s neighbors. These slips of paper are most valuable.” 1
It is possible to “borrow” someone else’s LDS temple recommend and gain entry into the Mormon temple, as well as to forge one. However, only a very daring individual would attempt to enter the temple without his own official temple recommend. Laake, for example indicates that she knew of only one person who entered the Mormon temple without his own temple recommend.
In applying for the temple recommend a Mormon must be interviewed by his/her bishop (or
the bishop’s first or second counselor) and is asked such questions as:
The LDS temple ceremonies were largely copied from the Masonic Lodge by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. Scott writes that “Any Mason who reads even such an abbreviated account of the temple ceremony as I have outlined will be amazed at the similarities between temple ordinances and Masonic Lodge ordinances. Joseph Smith claimed that he got much of the substance of the temple ceremony from the Book of Abraham papyri. The truth is that Joseph Smith was himself a Mason of the sublimest degree.” 5 The Masonic lodge resents the use of Masonic symbols in Mormon temple ceremonies, so much so that the Grand Lodge of Utah (1979) has refused initiation to known Mormons and denied admission to any Mormon Mason who was initiated in any other state. 6
The pilfering of the LDS temple ceremonies from the Masonic Lodge discredits the claim of the church hierarchy that the Mormon Church is divine. The Masonic Lodge whose rites include memorizing long statements, are recited in the induction ceremonies, and if one ever reveals any of the secrets of the ceremonies he has received within the lodge, he is to have his throat slit and bowels cut out of his body. The oath that Masons take “ to have my throat slit and bowels cut out of my body if I ever revealed any secrets of the Masonic Lodge” was, until recent times, (1990) a part of the oath of the Mormon temple ceremonies. If the Mormon Church is the true church established by Joseph Smith from instructions given by God, why was it necessary to copy Masonic rites for Mormon Church ceremonies? If the temple ceremonies were required by God, wouldn’t He have provided Smith with revelations of his own to guide him in devising the ceremonies?
The Mormon temple rites are secret, but as Laake writes: “Although the most significant rituals of Mormonism go on within its temples, and although the "Book of Mormon" itself warns against secrecies in religion, the temple ceremonies are nonetheless top secret outside temple walls, lest their sacred strangeness be ridiculed and defiled by non believers.” 7
It is understandable that a primary purpose of the secrecy of the temple ceremonies is to prevent embarrassment to the Mormon authorities and members from outsiders who would contend that they were strange. Perhaps in the 1840’s, the time of Joseph Smith, such ceremonies were necessary to attract members and to hold them together, as this gave them some cohesion. Also in Smith’s time, there was no television, no movies and as a result the church was the entertainment center. But today, with the varied choices of entertainment, education, the automobile, travel and other human fulfillment activities, secret ceremonies such as those held in the Masonic Lodge and the Mormon temple seem to be completely outdated. Why is it necessary to have secret ceremonies in the Mormon Church when most other religions are open? Could it be that if the Mormon Church had a policy of openness, too much would be exposed and the religion would die?
Endowment ceremonies with oaths are administrated to Mormons in the temple. According to Laake: “These are sacred ordinances and promises that make a person eligible for the highest heaven, and the Mormons partake of them on their own behalf during their first visit to the temple. In the years to come, I would be expected to run through the same ceremony again and again as a proxy for dead ancestors whose names had been discovered through the Mormon pastime of genealogy. (The idea behind the temple is that certain ceremonies, such as baptism and marriage and the ‘endowments,’ are vital to a person’s placement in the hereafter and yet can be performed only on earth. Unless conscientious mortals turn their attention to the graceless states of those who’ve gone on, scads of wishful spirits will flap around in limbo for eternity.)” 8
The Mormon temple depends on numerous workers, generally volunteers, usually elderly men and women who have time to devote to the temple. In the temple are workers who rent the white costumes for the ceremony, and workers who anoint those who are to receive their endowments with washings and anointing. Most of the presentations in the temple are on video, excepting the Salt Lake temple that still has live actors (Mormons of course) playing the various parts in the ceremony. The LDS temple ceremony may last as long as five hours in live sessions. Initiates are first greeted by temple workers and separated into a men’s and women’s locker rooms. They are given temple clothing and all parts of the body are washed and anointed with oil by the temple worker. Initiates are told that it will clean them from the blood and sins of this generation. Members are told that they must not reveal what they are told or what takes place in the temple and they must take oaths to that effect. Many feel after completing the ceremony: “Why should they not keep it a secret. If they ever complete the ceremony, they would be too ashamed to tell anyone what they had participated in.” Many often feel defiled, ashamed and bewildered while going through the ceremony. Some women who complete the ceremony are embarrassed by the “five points of fellowship” embrace by the male temple worker. One complained that the temple worker held her too close which was embarrassing and much too intimate for a stranger. 9 Laake describes the washing and anointing ritual that happened on her wedding day as follows: “Her gentle hands darted beneath my sheet to bless the parts of my body. ...She intoned, ‘I wash you that you may be clean from the blood and sins of your generation.’ She touched my head (‘that your brain may work clearly’) , my ears (‘that they may hear the word of the Lord’), my mouth and lips, my arms, my breast and ‘vitals,’ my loins (‘that you may be fruitful in propagating of a goodly seed’), my legs and feet. Her chanting and her cool fingers were both song and dance, and I was caught up calmed. When she had finished the first round she began again, replacing the water with oil from a dropper that anointed me head to toe....Finally the temple worker leaned to my ear to whisper my ‘new name’ : Sarah.
“...I didn’t know what this new name was for and the conditions attached to it disturbed me. I must reveal it to no one, not ever, except at the one proper moment during today’s ceremony, the temple worker told me. “...I was coming up now on the only part of this morning that I’d been truly dreading. It was time to climb into my first pair of regulation Mormon underwear, an unlovely wardrobe item that, during their first LDS temple visit, Mormons agree to wear for the rest of their lives and that they refer to ever after as their ‘garments,’...One of the purposes of the ‘garments’ is to make sure that Mormons eschew daring clothing. ...Women’s garments were slit in the crotch, very generously, so that they flapped open and left a girl’s greatest fascinations exposed....I was wearing long johns.” 10 Mormons are admonished to wear their garments next to their skin (girls under their bras) as protection from Satan while they complete their work on earth. Both Laake and her mother hated the garments, as they often prevented them from wearing fashion clothes, since the garments would keep such clothes from fitting properly. Laake writes: “... I figured that from this moment on I was a freak.” 11
Some of the other ordinances and secrets of the temple include:
Laake, in her 1972 ceremony (as all Mormons are required to do, when going through the ceremony), was asked to make a sign, “as though we were slitting our throats ‘ from ear to ear,’ to signify the penalty for revealing this handshake to anyone on the outside.” 12
Joseph Smith invented the Temple ceremony of Passing through the Veil. It was to show what he imagined would take place when one dies and enters heaven. Smith created a veil which was like secret huge white bed-sheets, with slits in them large enough to put hands through for testing the knowledge of signs by veil workers on the other side, representing the Lord. After testing, initiates pass through the “sheets” to the “celestial room,” representing the celestial kingdom. Part of the ceremony is taking someone through the veil, which signifies entering heaven from earth. During the marriage ceremony when the new bride is “sealed”, not only for time (life on earth) but for eternity (life everlasting) to her husband she is taken through the veil by her future husband. It is ironic that should this sealing of the wife to the husband later result in divorce, the woman often cannot get her temple marriage annulled and remains a wife “for eternity” to her ex-husband even if their marriage for “time” on earth has ended, but the husband can remarry in the temple and have another wife (and another..…) for eternity. And when he enters the celestial heaven after his death he will have two or more women sealed to him (depending upon how many divorces he had) thus having polygamous marriages in his celestial heaven. Women, on the other hand cannot be sealed to more than one man in the Mormon “eternal life”.
Laake tells about her temple experience in being taken through the veil by her husband. She writes: “As I moved with the others toward the bed-sheet, we were told that it symbolized the veil that separates this life from the next. ... The person who took his place on the other side of the veil was Monty [her future husband]. It was he who would usher me into heaven. It always happened this way for brides, who unlike the men had made their temple covenants not to God but to their own husbands.” 13
The LDS Temple rituals of celestial marriage and sealings for young brides often shatter their expectations of an enjoyable experience. Many young Mormons joke about the ceremonies, wondering what a secret handshake or wearing the “garment” has to do with eternal marriage. Laake writes: --- “The mysteries of the world were fraternity rituals (Temple celestial marriage ceremonies). A wild bewildered giggle was forming in my throat.
“What in the world was everyone doing? Did all the white-suited glorifiers in the room unquestioningly accept a ritual of nutty gestures from the pseudo-occult as a sacrament?
“These were the first moments when I viewed Mormonism with suspicion...... 14
1 Laytayne Colvett Scott, Mormon Mirage, 193