Temple Ritual Changed...Again

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One of the most important tenets of the LDS Church is the necessity of temple ordinances. New LDS temples are opened regularly, with over one hundred in operation today and a number in the planning stage. LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie explained:

From the days of Adam to the present, whenever the Lord has had a people on earth, temples and temple ordinances have been a crowning feature of their worship. . . . The inspired erection and proper use of temples is one of the great evidences of the divinity of the Lord's work . . . where these are not, the Church and kingdom and the truth of heaven are not (Mormon Doctrine, 1979 ed., pp. 780-81).

Joseph Smith claimed he was restoring the original temple ceremony of the Old Testament with the proper priesthood authority to administer those rites. The LDS temples are used for eternal marriages for both the living and the dead, as well as baptisms for the dead.

LDS Church leaders have consistently taught that a person must have a temple marriage in order to achieve eternal life and godhood. LDS prophet Spencer W. Kimball said:

Only through celestial marriage can one find the strait way, the narrow path. Eternal life cannot be had in any other way (Deseret News, Church Section, Nov. 12, 1977).

While most people have heard of the LDS practice of proxy baptisms, they may not realize that those rites are usually performed by teenagers. Adult Mormons go through the temple ceremony only once for themselves. After that, they participate in the rituals on behalf of a dead person of the same sex.

These ordinances are kept secret and are never to be discussed outside of the temple. When a Mormon attends the temple for the first time it is referred to as taking out his or her endowments. LDS President Brigham Young taught:

Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 31).

In order to attend the LDS temple members must be interviewed by the bishop of the local congregation and then by the stake president of the area. People are asked such questions as do they believe the president of the LDS Church is God's prophet, do they pay a full tithe, keep the word of wisdom (health code), are they morally clean, do they associate with apostates, etc. If the leaders believe the person to be ready to attend the temple he/she will be given a recommend. This is a small card with the person's name and ward (local congregation) listed and is signed by the bishop and stake president. This card must be shown at the temple door in order to enter.

Today the temple ceremony is divided into four parts:

  1. Washing and anointing.
  2. Endowment (creation play and instruction).
  3. Marriage sealing.
  4. Second Anointing.

Missionaries are required to participate in the LDS temple washing and anointing and endowment ceremony prior to their assignment to a particular mission district. Later when the missionary gets married he/she will need to have a marriage sealing ceremony in the temple.

The Second Anointing ceremony is a lesser known aspect of the LDS rituals and is by invitation only. When a couple participates in this ritual they are guaranteed godhood. David Buerger commented:

In 1901 Lorenzo Snow, fourth church president, stated "that persons who are recommended for second anointings should be those who have made an exceptional record, that they are persons who will never apostatize" (The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, by David John Buerger, Smith Research Associates, 2002, p. 118).

Earliest Ceremony in Kirtland, Ohio

The earliest form of the LDS washing and anointing ceremony was performed in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836, among the top male leaders. Attendees were instructed ahead of time to come prepared to fast for the day. Upon arrival the priesthood member received a complete bath, followed by an anointing with oil.

Later the men gathered for a foot-washing ceremony and partook of the sacrament consisting of bread and wine. After the Mormons moved west the church gradually changed from using wine to using water (see Power From On High, by Gregory A. Prince, Signature Books, pp. 95-96). William Harris, writing in 1841, related his experience:

In 1836, an endowment meeting, or solemn assembly, was called to be held in the Temple at Kirtland. . . .When the day arrived, great numbers convened from the different Churches in the country. They spent the day in fasting and prayer, and in washing and perfuming their bodies; they also washed their feet, and anointed their heads with what they called holy oil, and pronounced blessings. In the evening, they met for the endowment . . . The fast was then broken by eating light wheat bread, and drinking as much wine as they saw proper. Smith knew well how to infuse the spirit which they expected to receive; so he encouraged the brethren to drink freely, telling them that the wine was consecrated, and would not make them drunk. As may be supposed, they drank to the purpose. After this, they began to prophesy, pronouncing blessings upon their friends, and curses upon their enemies (William Harris, Mormonism Portrayed, as quoted in Mysteries of Godliness, p. 28).

Although the church had already switched from using wine to water in the local congregations, shortly after the turn of the last century they discontinued use of wine in the temple. LDS historian Thomas Alexander wrote:

By mid-1905, members of the Twelve were actively using stake conference visits to promote adherence [to the Word of Wisdom]. . . . In keeping with the change in emphasis, the First Presidency and Twelve substituted water for wine in the sacrament in their temple meetings, apparently beginning July 5, 1906 (Dialogue, vol. 14, no. 3, Autumn, 1981, p. 79).

Apostle Orson F. Whitney, speaking in 1916, defended the sacrament change:

If we use water instead of wine in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, it is because Christ has so commanded. Divine revelation adapts itself to the circumstances and conditions of men, and change upon change ensues as God's progressive work goes on to its destiny (Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, October 1916, p. 55).

1837 Anointings

To accommodate those church leaders who were not in Kirtland for the 1836 ceremony, another one was held in 1837. LDS Apostle Wilford Woodruff gave an account of his 1837 Kirtland experience in his diary:

After attending to the duties above spoken I repaired to a room in Company with Elder Meeks & Priest J Turpin to attend to our first washing. After washing our bodies from head to foot in soap & watter we then washed ourselves in clear watter next in perfumed spirits (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, edited by Scott G. Kenny, as quoted in Mysteries of Godliness, p. 32).

The next day Woodruff and those who had just received their washings were reassembled for their anointings. (Mysteries, p. 32)

The washing and anointing ritual was later incorporated into the Nauvoo Temple ceremony. Thus the washing and anointing segment became known as the "initiatory ordinance" performed prior to the endowment ceremony.

Nauvoo Endowment

In 1838 Joseph Smith was commanded by revelation to build a temple in Nauvoo. In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 124: 40-42, we read:

And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people . . . And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built.

The earliest accounts of the temple ceremony were recorded in 1845. Apostle Heber C. Kimball noted in his December 1845 journal:

. . . John D Lee and others have been fitting up stoves in the two west rooms [of the temple]. As they will be devoted to washing and Anointing and to heet water. We have two Large traves [troughs]. . . . Three men can wash in either of them at the same time (As quoted in Mysteries of Godliness, p. 75).

While men and women participated in the Nauvoo ritual, their washings and anointings were done in separate areas. David Buerger observed:

The earliest accounts of the Nauvoo temple endowment indicate that initiatory washings followed a literal Old Testament model of actual bathing. Large tubs of water are specified in the separate men's and women's rooms. The anointing was performed by liberally pouring consecrated oil from a horn over the head and allowing it to run over the whole body (Mysteries of Godliness, p. 81).

As late as 1931 the Salt Lake Temple had full-sized bathtubs for the washing ceremony (see Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony, Appendix F, pp. 175-76, and Mysteries of Godliness, Appendix 2, p. 218). Below is a picture of one of the ten washing and anointing rooms in the Salt Lake Temple as it appeared in 1912.

(The House of the Lord: A Study of Holy Sanctuaries Ancient and Modern,
by James E. Talmage, Signature Books, 1998, p. 118)

A few years later the washing and anointing ceremony was reduced to a ritual touching with water and oil on the various parts of the body by an officiator as prayers were said. The initiate was no longer totally undressed but covered with a sort of white poncho (called a "shield") open on the sides. The officiator then reached inside the shield to anoint various areas of the body (see Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony, p. 61). Then the temple worker assisted the initiate in putting on the one-piece form of the garment. Many Mormons wear the two-piece style in everyday life, reserving the one-piece style for the temple.

Changes in 2005

In January of 2005, the initiatory washing and anointing rite was again modified. Now an initiate disrobes in a locker room (men and women in separate areas), puts on the one-piece garment by him/herself, and then puts the newly designed shield over that. The new shield is no longer open on the sides so that the person is totally covered prior to entering the cubical for the washing and anointing rite.

The temple worker simply touches the person's forehead with water, and then gives the blessing regarding the various parts of the body (see account below). This is followed by an anointing of the forehead with oil and a repeat of a similar set of prayers. There has also been a slight modification to the wording at the end of the ritual telling the patron that his/her garments are now "authorized."

Following is the first-hand report from an individual who participated in a proxy washing and anointing session on January 18, 2005 in a temple in Utah:

First, you are given a one piece pair of "Garments" (with zipper in the front) and are told to "PUT THIS ON FIRST". You are instructed to then put the "Shield" on over the garments. The first thing I noticed was the shield is no longer open on the sides....AT ALL. It's sealed up all the way down to your ankles. Sure, they've got armholes and a big zipper in the front, but it NEVER comes open during the Initiatory.

No more icky naked feeling because, well, you're not practically naked while doing Initiatories anymore. Where the old "Shields" had massive slits up both sides, the new Shields have no opening on the sides at all. That's because the old men (and old women for the ladies) no longer reach under the Shield and touch you all over your naked body. Now, if you want to have an old man dab oil all over your body, you'll have to pay for your perversions like everyone else.

Then, you go into the first cubicle (about 4 feet by 4 feet) and sit on a little stool (www.josephlied.com).

After the man is ordained to the priesthood in behalf of the dead person, the worker states:

"Brother__________, the temple washing, anointing and clothing ordinances were given anciently, as recorded in the Book of Exodus: "And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him. . ." (Exodus 40:12-13)

"We likewise administer these ordinances in our day, but you are washed and anointed only symbolically, as follows."

THEN comes the washing. The temple worker dabs his finger tips into water and sort of draws an imaginary line across your forehead with his wet fingers, getting your forehead slightly damp. He does NOT touch you anywhere else on your body other than when he places his hands on your head and says,

"Brother _______, having authority, I wash you preparatory to your receiving your anointings (for and in behalf of [Patron gives the name. Then officiator repeats the name]________, who is dead), that you may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation.

"I wash your head, that your brain and your intellect may be clear and active; your ears, that you may hear the word of the Lord; your eyes, that you may see clearly and discern between truth and error; your nose, that you may smell; your lips, that you may never speak guile; your neck, that it may bear up your head properly; your shoulders, that they may bear the burdens that shall be placed thereon; your back, that there may be marrow in the bones and in the spine; your breast, that it may be the receptacle of pure and virtuous principles; your vitals and bowels, that they may be healthy and strong and perform their proper functions; your arms and hands, that they may be strong and wield the sword of justice in defense of truth and virtue; your loins, that you may be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, that you might have joy in your posterity; your legs and feet, that you might run and not be weary, and walk and not faint."

THEN comes the "Sealing of the Washing." A second man comes into the booth and they BOTH put their hands on your head and the second guy says:

"Brother _______, having authority, we lay our hands upon your head (for and in behalf of [Patron does NOT repeat the name]_______, who is dead), and seal upon you this washing, that you may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation, through your faithfulness, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

THEN you move to the second booth (where the guy that just sealed the washing came from) and the guy that just sealed the washing has you sit on a stool and he drips a drop of oil on the top of your head. HE DOESN'T TOUCH ANY PART OF YOUR BODY EXCEPT YOUR HEAD as he puts his hands on the top of your head and says:

"Brother _____, having authority, I pour this holy anointing oil upon your head (for and in behalf of [Patron gives the name. Then officiator repeats the name]________, who is dead), and anoint you preparatory to your becoming a King and a Priest unto the Most High God, hereafter to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever. I anoint your head, that your brain and your intellect may be clear and active; . . ." [The prayer continues with the same wording as the anointing with water.]

THEN another guy steps into the booth and does the "Confirmation of the Anointing". . . .

THEN, you step into the LAST partition and the guy that just said the Confirmation prayer says:

"Brother _______, under proper authority, the Garment placed upon you is now authorized (for and in behalf of [Patron gives the name. Then officiator repeats the name] ________, who is dead), and is to be worn throughout your life. It represents the Garment given to Adam when he was found naked in the Garden of Eden, and is called the Garment of the Holy Priesthood. Inasmuch as you do not defile it, but are true and faithful to your covenants, it will be a shield and a protection to you against the power of the destroyer until you have finished your work on the earth" (www.josephlied.com). [bold added for emphasis]

The reference to the ritual of washing, anointing and dressing of the priests in the book of Exodus has evidently been added to make the LDS ceremony seem biblical. However, there are a number of important differences.

  1. This rite was restricted to Aaron and his sons and was not done for his daughters or Israelites from a different tribe (Exodus 40:12).
  2. The garment placed on Aaron was outer clothing, described in Exodus 39:27-31, and was not like the LDS undergarment or their temple clothing.
  3. The priest did not wear a green apron.
  4. The washing and anointing did not precede an endowment ritual or marriage ceremony.
  5. The Aaronic rituals were recorded and Israelites knew what was done in the temple.
  6. The Biblical account says nothing about priests becoming kings.
  7. There was no oath of silence about the rites.
  8. The priests offered sacrifices for the sins of the people, prefiguring the atonement of Christ. The Old Testament temple and its rites are no longer needed (see Hebrews 8:13-9:15).

Defending Temple Changes

Through the years there have been many changes to the wording in the temple ceremony. (For more on this see our Salt Lake City Messenger, Nos. 75 and 76.) Some Mormons may feel that the changes to the endowment ceremony only relate to the form and don't affect the essential ordinance. Mormon apologist Michael Ash concedes that "the temple ceremony has undergone changes, improvements, and refinements" but argues that these relate to "presentation" and not to "absolute truths" ("Can Temple Ceremonies Change?" by Michael Ash, www.fairlds.org).

W. John Walsh, another LDS Church defender, gave his explanation for the changes:

It is important to remember that the temple ceremonies are teaching mechanisms that are tailored to the needs of their audience. . . The mechanisms may be changed for many reasons including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Spiritual Growth of the Church. . . .
  2. Apostasy in the Church. . . .
  3. Modernize to conform with the prevailing culture and/or language. . . .
  4. Add a specific teaching that is especially needed at a point in time. . . .
  5. Remove a specific teaching for cultural reasons. . . . ("Changes to the Temple Ceremonies," by W. John Walsh, www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/temple_changes.htm).

One is left to wonder which of these applies to the temple changes: apostasy? modernization? cultural reasons? How does one determine when change is due to apostasy rather than spiritual growth?

One needs to keep in mind that the LDS Church has always insisted on exactness in such items as total immersion (not sprinkling) during baptism and the exact words to be read during the Sacrament blessing (even to the extent of making the young man repeat the prayer a number of times until he says it word-perfect). Then what is the rational for changes in the temple ceremony?

Changing from a total bath to simply touching the forehead with water seems to be comparable to switching from total immersion in baptism to sprinkling. Brigham Young declared:

Has the holy Catholic Church got faith in Jesus that we have not got? Not a particle that is true and pure. But as for the ordinances of the House of God, we say, . . . that the mother church and all her daughters have transgressed the laws, every one of them; they have changed almost every ordinance of the House of God; . . . There is but one mode of baptism and that is by being immersed in the water . . . (The Essential Brigham Young, Signature Books, 1992, p. 195).

In 1982 W. Grant Bangerter, executive director of the Temple Department and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, stated:

As temple work progresses, some members wonder if the ordinances can be changed or adjusted. These ordinances have been provided by revelation, and are in the hands of the First Presidency. Thus, the temple is protected from tampering (Deseret News, Church Section, January 16, 1982).

However, in 1990 sweeping changes were introduced.

As recently as 2001 the official LDS magazine, Ensign, proclaimed:

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed" (Ensign, August 2001, p. 22).

Since the LDS Church insists that it has restored the ancient temple rituals, how can it make changes and still claim that it is the original ceremony? Prior to 1990, everyone who went through the ceremony understood the embrace on the five points of fellowship to be an essential part of the ritual. Why has it been removed?

The type of changes made in the ritual (i.e. removal of oath of vengeance and penalties, removal of the Christian minister, shortening of the ceremony, modernizing the garment, full bath changed to symbolic touching with water, etc.) would seem to indicate that they were made to make the ceremony more acceptable to new temple attendees.

If God truly revealed these rituals would he later adjust them to make them more popular? Wouldn't people have been just as offended in Joseph Smith's day by a complete bath as by having someone reach under a sheet to touch the naked body as was done during the last seventy years? Why didn't the ceremony originally have just an anointing to the forehead, as is done today?

If the aim is to "modernize to conform with the prevailing culture" why not eliminate the Masonic emblems, handshakes and passwords? Or limit the wearing of the garment to just the temple ceremony?

One thing seems certain, the LDS Church will continue to claim that its temple ritual is the restoration of the ancient temple rite and yet will continue to make modifications.

Civil Ceremony First?

One change that would make church policy consistent and produce greater goodwill with non-LDS family members would be to allow an LDS couple to have a civil marriage ceremony just prior to the temple sealing. Obviously the LDS Church recognizes the trauma that results from excluding non-LDS family members from a temple wedding. In the February 2005 Ensign is an article concerning ways to lessen the hurt feelings. One woman counseled:

Remember you are doing the right thing. The pain and heartache you may feel are momentary. It may not seem so now, but this too shall pass (Ensign, February 2005, p. 32).

Often an LDS couple will plan a short ring exchange program at their reception to make the non-member family feel more included in the day. However, this is usually seen as too little too late by the mother and father of the bride. One woman wrote:

The day of our marriage was bittersweet. The temple experience was magnificent. Although the simple ring ceremony did little to appease my parents, my husband and I decided to focus on the temple experience and hope that time would heal the wounds (Ensign, February 2005, p.35).

All of this pain could easily be avoided by simply allowing the couple to have a civil marriage prior to the temple ceremony.

A recent letter to the editor in the Salt Lake Tribune pointed out:

There has been much talk recently about the feelings between the LDS and non-LDS people in Utah. I am writing to offer a suggestion for taking a step toward easing those differences.

I bring experience that the LDS Church hierarchy cannot have had. I have stood on the front lawn of various LDS temples while three of my sons, two of my daughters and two of my granddaughters have been married within. I suggest that the LDS Church change the rules that brought that about.

Simply being a parent and a reasonably good citizen should be sufficient qualifications for attending the wedding of a son or daughter. . . . I believe I could be convincing in telling the lies about my beliefs that would be necessary for me to obtain a temple recommend. Do they really want parents to lie?

I understand that they regard their temple ceremonies as sacred. Do they think that parents, of whatever religious persuasion, do not regard the weddings of their children as sacred? (Robert Lee, Letters to the Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, April 28, 2005)

A Mormon responded:

. . . Placing the blame for not being able to attend temple wedding ceremonies on the LDS Church is unfair.

If he has raised his family in LDS religion practices, why is this such a big surprise? . . .

When my oldest daughter was contemplating marriage in the LDS Temple, she told me that she would not get married without her mother and father by her side. She said she would get sealed in the temple the next year. . . . (Alesa Forrest, Letters to the Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, May 2, 2005)

Another reader commented:

In his . . . letter, Robert Lee poignantly illustrated the heart-wrenching personal impact of the LDS Church's policy regarding temple weddings. This division and pain could be prevented by making a simple policy change. It would not be necessary to change any doctrine.

Present church policy excludes non-LDS and "unworthy" LDS from attending temple marriages of family and friends. LDS couples living in Utah are actively discouraged from considering a non-temple ceremony followed by a later temple sealing. Those who wish to include all family and friends in their wedding ceremony and marry outside the temple are penalized by church policy which requires them to wait one year to be sealed in the temple. However, this waiting period is not church policy in France, Germany, Japan and many other countries. It is not even a consistent policy within the United States.

If the LDS Church is unwilling to allow non-LDS family and friends to be present at temple marriages, it should at least eliminate the one-year waiting period. This would allow for a more inclusive ceremony and would be consistent with its own policy in other countries and other areas of the United States.

If LDS Church leaders are serious about their part in healing the divide in Utah and honest about their public pro-family stance, they must seriously consider changing their policy. (Jolene Arnoff, Letters to the Editor, Salt Lake Tribune, May 4, 2005)

According to the LDS Church Handbook, in some areas the church already allows a civil marriage prior to the temple sealing:

Some areas require that a marriage ceremony be performed by a public official. . . . In these cases, the temple sealing necessarily follows the civil marriage as soon as possible . . . (Church Handbook of Instruction, p. 71, 1998)

Since there is already a policy for such situations, why not make it universal? Evidently, there is no "revelation" that states the temple marriage must be done first or that a couple should wait a year after a civil ceremony before having the marriage "sealed." Consequently, with no doctrinal issues at stake, the change could easily be made. Why inflict such needless sorrow?

Summary of Major Changes in the LDS Temple Ritual from 1842-2005

1. Washing and Anointing was changed from being naked and having a full bath to being completely covered by the garment and shield, with symbolic anointing to forehead (see Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 2005 ed., pp. 39-40; Mysteries of Godliness, p. 32).

2. When the garment was first introduced it was only worn for special occasions. However, in a special meeting of the Quorum of the Anointed in 1845 George A. Smith declared that the garment should be worn "at all times" (Mysteries, p. 146).

3. Originally the garment was made of muslin, one-piece, full length with long sleeves and a collar. In 1916 President Joseph F. Smith emphasized that the garment was never to be altered (Evolution, p. 45, Mysteries, p. 150).

But in 1923 the First Presidency sent a notice to stake and temple presidents announcing that the garment could be modified. The sleeve could now end at the elbow, the leg could be shortened to just below the knee, the collar eliminated and the crotch closed. They could also be made of finer knitted material, even of silk, instead of the coarse, unbleached cotton material that was used originally.

However, the full-length garment was to be worn in the temple. Then in 1975 it became optional and one could elect to wear the shorter garment in the temple. In 1979 the shorter garment was again modified to a two-piece version (see Evolution, pp. 44-47; Mysteries, pp. 138, 142-154).

4. Originally only men participated in the temple ritual. In 1843 women were included (see Mysteries, p. 62).

5. The Second Anointing was added in 1843, in which couples were sealed to become gods (see Mysteries, pp. 62-68, 123).

6. A Christian minister, in clerical outfit, making a bargain with the devil to teach false doctrine was added in the 1850's, then removed in 1990 (see Evolution, pp. 32-33; Mysteries, p. 80 footnote 23).

7. Prior to 1877 the endowment ceremony was only performed for the living. David Buerger writes:

The first recorded endowments for the dead were performed in St. George on 11 January 1877, according to temple president David H. Cannon. Shortly thereafter Wilford Woodruff, the new temple president, received a revelation about endowments and sealings for his dead, which he recorded in his journal . . . Accordingly on 1 March 1877 Woodruff spent his seventieth birthday in the St. George temple with 154 women performing proxy endowments for deceased women who had been or were being sealed to Woodruff (Mysteries, pp. 108-109).

8. Dances were often held in the Nauvoo temple after an endowment session (see Mysteries, pp. 85-6). Parties were sometimes held in the temple. After Wilford Woodruff's sealing to the women mentioned above one hundred people joined him for a Birthday/Wedding party in the St. George temple (see Mysteries, p. 109).

9. In 1894 the Law of Adoption, where a man could have unrelated men sealed to him as his sons, was changed to just sealing those in one's own family (see Evolution, pp. 42-44).

10. Oath of Vengeance against those who killed Joseph Smith was removed in 1927 (see Evolution, p. 22; Mysteries, pp. 133-140).

11. Wording and demonstration of penalties (drawing thumb across throat, heart and bowels) went through several modifications prior to being removed in 1990 (see Evolution, p. 16; Mysteries, pp. 39, 52-54, 141).

12. Chant of "Pay Lay Ale" changed to "Oh God, hear the words of my mouth" in 1990 (see Evolution, p. 36).

13. Mocking of the Christian doctrine of God was removed in 1990 (see Evolution, p. 80).

14. Lecture at the veil delivered at sessions for those taking out their endowments for the first time was removed in 1990 (see Evolution, p. 37; Mysteries, pp. 81, 110-113, 137).

15. Embrace on the Five Points of Fellowship at the veil was removed in 1990 (see Evolution, pp. 29-30; Mysteries, pp. 55, 78, 170).

16. Woman's Oath of Obedience to her husband was modified in 1990 (see Evolution, pp. 33-35).

17. Length of temple ceremony has varied through the years (see Mysteries, p. 80).

Ministry Files Lawsuit

For the first time in the history of Utah Lighthouse Ministry, we have had to file a lawsuit. The action was filed on April 25, 2005, in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, to prevent the exploitation of the ministry trademark and our personal names, and to ensure that those seeking our information are not misled. The next day the Salt Lake Tribune reported:

A Salt Lake City organization that is critical of the LDS Church filed suit Monday accusing a pro-Mormon foundation of trademark infringement and unfair competition.

The suit by Utah Lighthouse Ministry Inc. accuses The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) of registering 13 Internet domain names associated with UTLM, including those of founders Jerald and Sandra Tanner, to create confusion. . . .

The alleged cybersquatting—the practice of registering or using Internet domain names with the intent of profiting from the good will associated with someone else's trademark—takes visitors looking for UTLM publications to a selection of hyperlinks to articles posted on FAIR's Web site instead, the suit contends. In addition, it says, these internet sites "bear a remarkable resemblance of 'look and feel' to the UTLM Web site." . . .

The legal action seeks transfer to UTLM of the 13 domain names, which were registered in 2003 and 2004 by Allen Wyatt, and triple the unspecified money damages suffered by the ministry ("Ministry Files Suit Over Web Sites," Salt Lake Tribune, April 26, 2005).

On Wednesday, April 27, the Deseret News ran a similar article on the suit. Neither paper contacted us for a statement. The thirteen domain names are:

Exhibits 40-46 of the complaint are emails from various people who stumbled across the bogus sites.

Exhibit 40 is an email from a woman who wrote "that when you type in utahlighthouse.com or even utahlighthouseministries.com you're redirected to an anti-utlm site, which looks EXACTLY like your site!!!" (Complaint, p. 19)

One man wrote "the website utahlighthouse.com is a hacked site paroding and slamming this site." (Complaint p. 19)

After visiting www.utahlighthouse.org another man wrote "I assume you already knew about it, but just in case you didn't, you really should have a look. If that isn't illegal manipulation of the image and purpose of your Website, I don't know what is!" (Complaint p. 20)

In Exhibit 46 a customer wrote "I went to www.utahlighthouseministry.com and found a different site, obviously not yours, talk about deceptive, let me tell you." (Complaint p. 21)

On the next page is a copy of Exhibit 1, our opening web page, and Exhibit 29, one of the web pages of the defendants. Wyatt's web sites were specifically designed to mimic the "look and feel" of our official site. All of the sites have now been taken down but that does not resolve the problem of "acts of cybersquatting, trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition in violation of the laws of the United States of America and the State of Utah." (See Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Inc. a Utah Corporation, Plaintiff, v. Discovery Computing, Inc., an Arizona Corporation and Allen L. Wyatt, an individual, Debra M. Wyatt, an individual, The Foundation For Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR), a New York Corporation and Scott Gordon, an individual, and Does 1-10, inclusive, Defendants. United States District Court, District of Utah, Central Division, case number 2:05CV00380 DAK. [.pdf] )

Excerpts from Letters and Emails

Nov. 2004. Thank you for your November 2004 Messenger; as usual, I read it from cover to cover. . . . Thanks to your ministry, a young woman whom my son dated a few years ago renounced Mormonism, started attending our church (University Christian), and married a fine Christian man.

Nov. 2004. It is unfortunate that you have been so easily deceived Sandra. That same spirit you felt as you sang the song Oh it is wonderful resides in all aspects of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including but not limited to His Prophets,

I know the LDS faith is True. The Rock on which Christ established his Church was not Peter nor any man, but revelation and God revealse his truths to his Prophets.

Nov. 2004. You are both so full of sh**. Always, always, always follow the prophet. Even when it is not in your interest. Once you start doubting the prophet(s) you fall. [We edited his four-letter word.]

Nov. 2004. . . . I have always enjoyed researching Mormon history. I thank God that I did not complete the baptism that was scheduled for me into the Mormon Church in 1976, . . . The reason I did not join the church was due to my reading of Fawn Brodie's famous book [No Man Knows My History], as well as a book called, "Why I am Not a Mormon." Since that time, I have been fascinated with Mormon history.

Nov. 2004. how dare you. if you were born into the church why put such slander for everyone to read, why be false prophets to everyone. many have done research and many things stated on this site were false, why slander someone if u are not telling the truth. . . . joseph smith was a prophet of god, he NEVER in his life said such things, u of all ppl should know this. u grew up being taught this. . . .

Dec. 2004. I read the whole "Mormonism, Shadow or Reality" 11 yrs ago (took almost a yr. to read) and several other of your works. It has been valuable over the years in keeping me informed, and I have derailed the conversion to Mormonism of family members. Also I've planted seeds of doubt I hope in a young group of missionaries at my door. Anyways God bless you & your loved ones- always!

Dec. 2004. I find it interesting in reading the emails from others that many mormon members are angry and accuse you of being hateful and evil. I believe this is the first step in their own realization that something is wrong. I pray these people will receive guidance to continue to learn the truth and develop a closer relationship with Jesus....Thank YOU!!

Dec. 2004. My wife is a former member of the LDS church. Years ago, much of your research helped free her from the oppressive doctrines after which she gave her life to Christ. Thank you and may God continue to bless you and the Utah Lighthouse Ministry.

Dec. 2004. Hello, I am a 24 year old italian member of the LDS Church. I was surfing the net looking for stuff and new ideas for my lessons in the church when I found your web site.

I've been through it and I was at first shocked, and then disgusted. You are not having any idea of what you are doing; if you would, you'd stop immediately. . . .

Dec. 2004. I want to thank you for the wealth of information that you have on your website. I am a 26 year old male returned missionary for The LDS church. I have recently started a study of the history of the LDS church. I started the study in hopes of finding answers to lifelong questions I have had about the church, and the practice of polygamy. I have read some of your works, and they raise some very good arguments against the LDS church.

I am not sure who to believe anymore so I want to check everything out for myself. . . .

Jan. 2005. I have always respected the work of Utah Lighthouse Ministry and the Tanners, even when I was in the LDS Church and didn't always agree with their conclusions at the time; NOW I realize that what I disagreed with the Tanners in the past I am now having to agree with (hey-how can anyone successfully argue with the truth?).

Jan. 2005. Get a life buddy and quit worrying about everyone elses.

Jan. 2005. . . . I am near ready to prepare my letter to the Bishop to have my membership removed from the church records. I appreciate the information on your website to help me do this. Understand, this is difficult for me (I am a High Priest) but having met and talked with Sandra, and having now had the time to review a lot of material and cross-referencing this material to my own library (Journals of Discourses, History of the Church, etc.), it has become obvious that I can no longer live the lie.

Jan. 2005. . . . I check out the Letters to the Editor every month and I am totally blown away by the questions that you get from Mormons. They "don't get it" or, as we here in AZ say, they are "a taco short of a combination plate". They have no problem sending missionaries all over the world to try to convert the unsuspecting and uneducated (religiously speaking) and yet they have a problem with your website posting information that is not only verifiable, it's often from their own church!

Jan. 2005. Now of course you will . . . give me a bunch of bull crap about your reasons for being antimormon. But it's okay. I am not expecting you to tell me the truth.(In fact, your whole website is a bunch of lies). Now I could go through all of your lies and have comebacks for all of them. But it wouldn't do any good. I have tried that enough times with you liars that I have realized that whenever I try to ask a strait up question, you always find a way to sneak around the question without answering it because you have no answer for it.

Feb. 2005. I joined the church at the young age of twenty-three while I was in the service. After 40 years in the church I began to see things that bothered me and it wasn't until my wife and I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, that we began to search out what's what in earnest.

Your website has been a great source . . . Like you, I am concerned about the members most of whom are really great people. But, it is obvious that we all have been lied to over the years and this makes me very angry at the church leaders. . . .

I appreciate all the information you have made available and the links to other websites which have been a great source of information. I have been studying like crazy and have learned a lot of information, some of which has made me sick to my stomach! . . .

Feb. 2005. I am LDS and Proud of it, I am not the one to judge anyone, but how can you stray away from it is really the truth about your ancestors and become part of a church that will never show you the truth and the light.... Please do not disappoint you ancestor's By doing what you are doing now go back to the LDS faith and seek the true meaning of the gospel that was sent here before us through Joseph's Smiths Eyes.

Feb. 2005. All of the reading I have done about Joseph Smith Jr. and all of his writings including the book of Mormon sound phony to me. I cannot see any reason to believe anything he says. It all sounds like plagiarism and lies to me.

Feb. 2005. Are you LDS? If not, how could you possibly know the answers to questions people may have concerning this religion?! Because I AM LDS . . . I am so sick to death of people putting down a religion they know so little about. Please for all LDS peoples sake, knock it off.

Mar. 2005. Why are you trying to publicly defame the Mormons? What did they ever do to you? It seems the Mormons are the only church not interested in ridiculing the beliefs of other churches. That truly is sad.

April 2005. I recently received the letter of freebies, which though hurtful, I am grateful to know the truth about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I am very grateful for the Tanners' honest look into Mormonism's past, and re-emphasis and the most important theme I cling to as a Mormon, and that is my personal relationship with the Lord. After an honest look at what they've presented, it becomes very evident that our Mormon prophets are just men, sinners like the rest of us with a sometimes unclear understanding of history and God's universe.

I don't know if this compliment from a Mormon is meaningless or not, but the Tanners' have followed the Lord's command to know the truth, and to make sure their brother does not stumble in error, two clear exhortations in the New Testament. As such, I firmly believe they will attain a higher degree of glory than many of us Mormons, and I am glad to see such an honest pursuit of truth. God loves the work your ministry is doing.

April 2005. I'm a former Mormon who came to know the Lord in 1972 while I was a player in the NFL through the ministry of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The Mormon Church does such a good job of obscuring its theological positions and the changing of its historical positions that it took me five years before I realized that I couldn't be both a Mormon and a Christian. The materials I obtained through Utah Lighthouse Ministry were incredibly helpful to me in turning the light on. I finally found the peace that I'd been looking for and my life hasn't been the same since!

April 2005. After 30 years as a "convert" to the LDS Church, I and my wife (she is still struggling with this) have walked away from the church. I've always thought of folks like you as spreaders of poison and followed church leaders advice to avoid "anit-mormon" literature.

Recently, and I don't know why, I chose to take a look at the challenge put forth about the Book of Abraham and found the evidence compelling. I've even read the FARMS and FAIR responses and found them to be pretty lame.

Since then I've read a ton of stuff that I won't list here but has convinced me that the things that I've held sacred all these years are no more than smoke and mirrors created by Brother Joe. I'm angry and disappointed that I've been lied to all these years. . . . Thanks to folks like you truth that would not otherwise come forth is available now for those who are seeking the real truth. Thanks for what you do.

April 2005. I am a former Mormon who was able to excommunicate himself from the Mormon Church over 10 years ago with the help of your ministry. My younger sister, brother-in-law, and I have since embraced traditional Christianity.


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