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Sacred secrets

I was a Mormon for 27 years.  I know how Mormons feel about the temple.  I know how I felt when I first learned that the entire transcript of the temple ceremony was available online for people to read.  I couldn't possibly fathom what would make someone want to do something so horrible.

That's why I want to share a bit about why I made my earlier post about the temple, and why I'm making this one.  I thought about this for a long time.  It wasn't an easy decision, and it wasn't a hasty decision.  Knowing the pain it could cause to people that I love dearly was the main deterrent in me discussing the temple.  I am not sharing this information because I want to hurt those who hold sacred the things that they do in the Mormon temples.  I do not want to offend them, nor do I want to ridicule something that is so special to them.  Why, then, would I share it?  What possible reason could I have other than to hurt or to mock?

When deciding what to write or say, a good writer/speaker will first ask "What is my target audience?"  So, I ask myself that question.  Who reads my blog?  To be honest, I'm not sure.  I would wager that most people who now read my blog are gay, and I would also wager that most of them are not fundamentalist Christians--perhaps I do have many religious readers, but I would guess that most of them are "liberal" or open-minded theists.  I would guess that I have a fair number of atheists.  I think that I have very few readers who are active Mormons.  So, with that target audience in mind, why would I talk about the temple?

I want people to know accurate information about the LDS church.  I want everything that I say about the church to be true and to be (as much as is reasonably possible) unbiased.  Having been a member for 27 years, I know quite a bit about the church.  I know all of its major doctrines and much of its history.  I know what happens in the temples because I attended the temple dozens (possibly even hundreds) of times.  And if anyone wants to know more about the church, I would like to be one source where they can look to find it.  I'll certainly recommend other sources for fuller information, such as the church's own website, the Journal of Discourses, and History of the Church.  Personally, I think that if someone is interested in joining an organization, they should be entitled to all of the information about its beliefs and practices before joining and making a commitment to the organization.  So, I think anyone who is interested in joining the church at least has the right to information about what happens inside the temples.

I also want to point out what I believe to be a rather significant disconnect between what Mormons perceive and what is reality.  That is to say, there are many things that Mormons say about the temple that I believe to be nothing more than a lie that is repeated so often it is finally accepted as true.  One example is that the temple is "sacred, not secret".  The reasoning is that it's not really a secret because anyone can know about it--they just have to become Mormon and get a temple recommend first.  I say, it is secret because they don't want anyone to talk about it outside of the temple itself.  If it weren't secret, Mormons would not have any problems with people talking about what goes on there, but yet they do.  When I made my last post about the temple, someone sent my mom a Facebook message, rather distraught and asking "What should we do? Keith's posting videos about the temple."

Another big disconnect is that Mormons will say "There's nothing in the temple that you can't find in the scriptures".  Again, if that were true, then Mormons wouldn't have any problem with people knowing exactly what happens in the temple because it would basically be the same as them reading the Bible.  But, there really are things that happen in the temple that aren't found in the scriptures.  One of the most notable examples is the use of masonic rites.  Joseph Smith became a freemason and learned all of their secret handshakes, then put them into the endowment ceremony and passed it off as a revelation he had from God.

To emphasize this disconnect, I include two videos. The first is part of a talk that David A Bednar (one of the 12 apostles) gave in General Conference a few years ago.  I'm actually going to embed that one because I'm relatively confident that it won't offend anyone.  The second video will be actual footage of the temple ceremony--it will be exactly what happens inside of a Mormon temple.  I know that it's accurate because I've been there myself and it is precisely what happens.  I will say a few words about Elder Bednar's talk, but for the most part I leave to the reader to view both videos and to draw your own conclusions.

The only thing I want to point out with this talk is that he spends half of the time vilifying people who disagree with him, or criticize the church and its temple ceremony.  This is a typical tactic--in politics it's called mudslinging.  Personally, I think it's a sign that someone cannot stand on their own argument because they rely on making the "other guy" look bad.  He says that those who criticize the church are servants of the devil and are merely doing the work of Satan.  He paints a very dark picture of people who disagree with him.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the video of the temple ceremony.  This is a full and complete temple ceremony.  It's very long.  Most of it is just a re-enactment of the creation story presented in Genesis (with slight differences).  If you are interested in seeing what it is like but don't want to watch the full hour, I would suggest going to somewhere around timestamp 55 or 58 minutes or so.  The end is where all of the secret signs and handshakes are shown.  And, out of respect for any Mormons who may be reading the blog, I'm not embedding the link here because it is actual footage taken inside of a temple.  I send my thanks to the person who uploaded this.  I can only imagine how difficult it must have been, and how horrible it could be for you if your identity were known, so thank you for doing this even with the huge risk at hand.

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