Monday, March 19, 2007

Prejudice in the pre-1990 endowment

It seems like every time I post on the On Faith blog, I get an increase in visitors to my site. So, I figure this time I will have something for them to look at. Otterson, the Church's Public Relations guy, was appointed by the Church to respond to Newsweek's invitation to answer questions about contemporary issues with religion.

Recently, Otterson made a post entitled, "Prejudice Can Be Unlearned" . He talks about how he was baffled at the prejudice against Catholics and how prejudice can be unlearned.

I posted this:


I praise Pres. Hinckley for his April 2006 Priesthood session talk in which he encouraged the brethern to be kinder to those of other religions and races. This is a step in the right direction. John D. the First said:

"Many current General Conference talks by President Hinckley highly stress tolerance of people with other points of view; they are probably largely directed at Mormonism's Utah/Idaho base. Whether Mormons there follow his injunctions in this regard is a different story."

Do you not know why the prejudice exists in the first place and why it is difficult to get the people to follow a new injunction when for generations they were taught prejudice in their most sacred ordinance, the endowment in the temple?

I praise the LDS church for changing the endowment in 1990 to take out the character that represented a sectarian priest who was employed by Satan to teach the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve and the language that linked popes with false priests. Prejudice is taught. It was blatantly taught in the temple and from the pulpit and in the original "Mormon Doctrine", but that is changing and that is good. But, the church has a serious responsibility to undo the harm they caused by teaching prejudice for all those years, and it is going to take a lot more than the occasional GC talk."

But for those like me, who are younger than 36 and never saw the pre-1990 version of the endowment, let me quote the relevant parts. All of it can be found here (

ELOHIM: I will place enmity between thee and the seed of the woman. Thou mayest have power to bruise his heal, but he shall have power to crush thy head.

LUCIFER:: Then with that enmity I will take the treasure of the earth, and with gold and silver I will buy up armies and navies, Popes and priests, and reign with blood and horror on the earth!

ADAM:: Who are you?

LUCIFER:: I am the God of this world.

ADAM:: You, the God of this world?

LUCIFER:: Yes, what do you want?

ADAM:: I am looking for messengers.

LUCIFER:: Oh, you want someone to preach to you. You want religion, do you? I will have preachers here presently.

(Lucifer turns his head as a sectarian minister approaches.)

LUCIFER:: Good Morning sir!


(The preacher turns and looks into the camera.)

SECTARIAN MINISTER: A fine congregation!

LUCIFER:: Yes, they are a very good people. They are concerned about religion. Are you a preacher?


LUCIFER:: Have you been to college and received training for the ministry?

SECTARIAN MINISTER: Certainly! A man cannot preach unless has been trained for the ministry.

LUCIFER:: Do you preach the orthodox religion?

SECTARIAN MINISTER: Yes, that is what I preach.

LUCIFER:: If you will preach your orthodox religion to these people, and convert them, I will pay you well.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: I will do my best.

(Lucifer guides the preacher to Adam and Eve, who stand nearby.)

LUCIFER:: Here is a man who desires religion. He is very much exercised, and seems to be sincere.

(As Lucifer presents the preacher to Adam and Eve he steps back and observes the ensuing conversation. The preacher is made to sound sincere, although misguided and credulous. Adam appears humble, faithful and immovable in his determination to serve God. He is not swayed by the preacher, and is astounded by the doctrines espoused by the preacher.)

SECTARIAN MINISTER: I understand that you are inquiring after religion.

ADAM:: I was calling upon Father.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: I am glad to know that you were calling upon Father. Do you believe in a God who is without body, parts, or passions; who sits on the top of a topless throne; whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere; who fills the universe, and yet is so small that he can dwell in your heart; who is surrounded by myriads of beings who have been saved by grace, not for any act of theirs, but by His good pleasure. Do you believe in such a great Being?

ADAM:: I do not. I cannot comprehend such a being.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: That is the beauty of it. Perhaps you do not believe in a devil, and in that great hell, the bottomless pit, where there is a lake of fire and brimstone into which the wicked are cast, and where they are continually burning, but none never consumed?

ADAM:: I do not believe in any such place.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: My dear friend, I am sorry for you.

LUCIFER:: I am sorry, very very sorry! What is it you want?

ADAM:: I am looking for messengers from my Father.

(Peter, James and John approach Adam and Eve.)

PETER: What is being taught?

ADAM:: I cannot comprehend it.

PETER: Can you give us some idea concerning it?

ADAM:: They preach of a God who is without body, parts, or passions; who is so large that he fills the universe, and yet is so small that he can dwell in your heart; and of a hell, without a bottom, where the wicked are continually burned but are never consumed. To me, it is a mass of confusion.

PETER: We do not wonder that you cannot comprehend such doctrine. Have you any tokens or signs?

(Peter, James and John exit; Lucifer stares into the camera.)

LUCIFER:: Now is the great day of my power. I reign from the rivers to the ends of the earth. There is none who dares to molest, or make me afraid.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: Shall we ever have any apostles or prophets?

LUCIFER:: No. However, there may be some who will profess revelation or apostleship. If so, just test them by asking that they perform a great miracle, such as cutting off an arm or some other member of the body, and restoring it, so that the people may know that they have come with power.

(The scene changes again to the lone and dreary world. The three Apostles boldly approach Lucifer.)

PETER: I am Peter.

JAMES: I am James.

JOHN: I am John.

LUCIFER:: Yes, I thought I knew you. (He turns to the Preacher.) Do you know who these men are? They claim to be apostles. Try them!

(The Preacher approaches Peter.)

SECTARIAN MINISTER: Do you profess to be an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ?

PETER: We do.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: This man told me that we should never have any revelation or apostles, but if any should come professing to be apostles, I was to ask them to cut off an arm or some other member of the body and the restore it, so that the people might know that they came with power.

PETER: We do not satisfy men's curiosity in that manner. It is a wicked and an adulterous generation that seeks for a sign. Do you know who that man is? He is Satan!


PETER: That is one of his names.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: He is quite a different person from what he told me the devil is. He said the devil has claws like a bear's on his hands, horns on his head, and a cloven foot, and that when he speaks he has the roar of a lion!

PETER: He has said this to deceive you, and I would advise you to get out of his employ.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: Your advise is good; but, if I leave his employ, what will become of me?

PETER: We will preach the gospel unto you, with the rest of Adam's posterity.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: That is good. (He turns to Lucifer) I would like to have a settlement. I want you to pay me for preaching.

LUCIFER:: I am ready to keep my word and fulfill my part of the agreement. I promised to pay you if you would convert these people, and they have nearly converted you! You can get out of my kingdom, I want no such men in it! (As the preacher turns sadly and leaves Lucifer approaches Peter) Now, what are you going to do?

PETER: We will dismiss you without further argument."


Hüffenhardt said...

The words "popes and priests" were replaced in 1990 with a more generic reference to "false priests who oppress and tyrants who destroy." Only Catholics have popes, therefore, Catholic clergy were directly targeted. The sectarian priest himself might be of any denomination.

Not all the blame can be put on the endowment. But, teaching that popes are employed by Lucifer in what is supposed to be the ultimate teaching play in the pinnacle sacred ordinance within the House of the Lord repeatedly, giving the same lesson over and over, simply must create or add to prejudice in the hearts of the participants if they truly believe it is from God.

As I said, I am glad that the Church changed the endowment and that Pres. Hinckley is giving talks encouraging kindness to those who are different. But, let me show you what else needs to change if Hinckley is serious about rooting the prejudice many members have against others. In doing so I am referencing the work of others (I will not include the link because if I do, this post will not be published):

1) Joseph Smith said in his most recent rendition of his First Vision: "I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

"I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” He again forbade me to join with any of them" (JS-H 1:18-20).

2) D&C 29:21:
"And the great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall be cast down by devouring fire, according as it is spoken by the mouth of Ezekiel the prophet, who spoke of these things, which have not come to pass but surely must, as I live, for abominations shall not reign."

D&C 88:94:
"And another angel shall sound his trump, saying: That great church, the mother of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, that persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood—she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea—behold, she is the tares of the earth; she is bound in bundles".

The leaders of the Church have a history of identifying the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Only recently have they stopped teaching that and now say that it is any group that teaches falsehoods.
“The MYSTERY of Babylon the great, is mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, and it needs no prophetic vision, to unravel such mysteries. The old church is the mother, and the protestants are the lewd daughters…There is none in all christendom that doeth good; no, not one.” (Apostle John Taylor, Times and Seasons, Vol.6, No.1, p.811)

"Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the "whore of Babylon" whom the Lord denounces... as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act.” (Apostle Orson Pratt The Seer, Vol.2, No.4, p.255)

"The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church is the great corrupt ecclesiastic power, represented by great Babylon which has made all nations drunk with her wickedness, and she must fall, after she has been warned with the sound of the everlasting gospel. Her overthrow will be by a series of the most terrible judgments which will quickly succeed each other, and sweep over the nations where she has her dominion, and at last she will be utterly burned by fire, for thus hath the Lord spoken. Great, and fearful, and most terrible judgments are decreed upon these corrupt powers, the nations of modern Christendom; for strong is the Lord God who shall execute His fierce wrath upon them, and He will not cease until He has made a full end, and until their names be blotted out from under heaven." (Apostle Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p.84 - p.85)

"And he [the angel of God] said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people."
- Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10-11

"After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christendom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They all belong to Babylon"
- Apostle George Q. Cannon said, Gospel Truth, p.324

"Christians—those poor, miserable priests brother Brigham was speaking about—some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth, and at the same time preaching righteousness to the children of men...You may get a Methodist priest to pour water on you, or sprinkle it on you, and baptize you face foremost, or lay you down the other way, and whatever mode you please, and you will be damned with your priest."
- Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 5:89

" a perfect pack of nonsense...the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century."
- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167

"...the Book of Mormon remains secure, unchanged and unchangeable, ...But with the Bible it was not and is not was once in the sole and exclusive care and custody of an abominable organization (Christianity), founded by the devil himself, likened prophetically unto a great whore, whose great aim and purpose was to destroy the souls of men in the name of religion. In these hands it ceased to be the book it once was."
- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, The Joseph Smith Translation, pp. 12, 13

3) "What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world"
- Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270

"...all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels."
- Prophet Joseph Smith , The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60"

Bull said...

Exactly H. Anyone who was offended by the sectarian minister's portrayal in the original endowment is obviously grossly ignorant of the church's doctrine and I really have to wonder why such a neophyte would be going through the temple.

Go to a Mormon church on any Sunday and you will hear members repeatedly give thanks to be members of the only true church on earth. Implicit in this is that all other religions are false.

Any tolerance that Mormons learn from their leaders will tainted by the condescending attitudes toward other religions that are inherent to their doctrines. Remove those beliefs and Mormonism no longer exists.

Hüffenhardt said...

Thanks, Bull, for your comment. I agree.

Saskia said...

Interesting blog,
in re bull's comments
"Go to a Mormon church on any Sunday and you will hear members repeatedly give thanks to be members of the only true church on earth. Implicit in this is that all other religions are false."

In the Catholic Church we too say, 'we believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic church' with 'to the exclusion of all others' implied and many other churches do the same. Most Christian denominations will at least implicitly claim that they are the 'one true church', Mormons aren't the only ones...