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MORMON OPPOSITION TO THE CROSS

May it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galations 6:14)

The cross is the symbol of Christianity and has been central to the preaching of the gospel of the church of Jesus Christ since its inception (1 Corinthians 1:23). To the Christian the cross represents salvation and eternal life, because it was there on the cross that Christ atoned for our sins. It reminds us of the awful cost of our redemption, and of how much we owe the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our hero, our Saviour and our life.

However, Mormon women do not wear a crucifix as jewellery. And the LDS will not permit a cross to be displayed anywhere on their premises. Strangely, seeing they insist that they are Christians, they don’t display any of the other symbols of Christianity anywhere on their premises either. Instead, the inside of their temple is decorated with Masonic/pagan symbols, and the external masonry with pagan, occultic and satanic symbols. (As a matter of interest, the cross is never featured alongside that type of symbolism because they oppose one another.)

The LDS Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith gave the following reason for the LDS’s rejection of the cross as a symbol:

“…….. such a custom is repugnant and contrary to the true worship of our Redeemer. Why should we bow down before a cross or use it as a symbol? Because our Savior died on the cross, the wearing of crosses is to most Latter-day Saints in very poor taste and inconsistent to our worship ….. We may be definitely sure that if our Lord had been killed with a dagger or with a sword, it would have been very strange indeed if religious people of this day would have graced such a weapon by wearing it and adoring it because it was by such a means that our Lord was put to death.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, Volume 4, pages 17-18).

It should be borne in mind that the LDS wrongly teaches that Christ’s atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane, which effectively does away with the importance of, or even the need for, the cross. Furthermore, they maintain that His atonement only covered Adam’s sin, merely reversing the fall of Adam and the curse of death, and thereby guaranteeing universal resurrection. This effectively nullifies the true gospel of Christ that proclaims forgiveness of sins. (See the article “The LDS Gospel is Not the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” a link for which is provided at the bottom of this page.)

Because of these unbiblical LDS teachings Mormons are taught that they have to earn the right to the forgiveness of their own personal sins through obedience to LDS laws and ordinances, good works and a virtuous life. So they can never be sure whether or not they will eventually make the grade. And this diminishes the work of Christ in their eyes. Consequently, they could never ever be beholden to Christ in the way that Christians are. Nor could they ever enjoy the same saving relationship with Christ as do Christians.

None of the LDS doctrines are biblical. Nor do they bear any resemblance to Christianity. In fact their teaching on the atonement opposes the foundational doctrine of Christian salvation, as preached by the apostles in the primitive church. For this reason Mormons cannot even begin to imagine the joy, freedom from guilt, peace of mind and overwhelming gratitude that accompanies the Christian’s assurance that Christ Himself earned the forgiveness of “my sins” when He bore my penalty in my place, that day on the cross at Calvary. Nor do they realize the utter devotion to Christ that is part and parcel of the Christian life. To the Christian the cross represents salvation from sin. It reminds us of what Christ achieved on our behalf, as well as of the tremendous cost to Himself.

THE REASON FOR THE CROSS

Contrary to what the LDS maintains, the cross wasn’t merely a weapon that was used to execute Christ. It was on the cross at Calvary that Christ defeated Satan, sin, death and hell, and earned our salvation (c/f John 12:31-33). So in the mind of a Christian, the cross is symbolic of all these things.

Furthermore, Christ wasn’t merely “killed,” as the LDS puts it. He went to the cross of His own free will and voluntarily laid down his life for the specific purpose of earning our salvation from the consequences of sin. He could have turned from the cross at any time. But instead He deliberately set His face steadfastly towards Jerusalem, knowing full well what awaited Him there (Luke 9:52). Then He gave His life on that cross, in our place, as our substitute, to pay the penalty for our sins, as was fore-ordained and so graphically illustrated in the “pictures” provided by the Old Covenant sacrificial system.

Throughout the Old Testament God has used the picture language of rituals to explain hard-to-understand concepts that were to become part and parcel of the coming New Covenant of Grace. And salvation from sin through a substitutionary sacrifice was one of these important concepts. You will find a more in-depth explanation of this fascinating topic in the article, “Baptism, Salvation and the Use of Biblical Symbolism,” a lead to which is provided for your convenience, at the bottom of this page.)

Christ’s whole purpose in coming to earth had been to sacrifice His life on that cross at Calvary, so that we could be set free from the stranglehold of sin. And moreover it was the will of God, as foretold by His prophets in the Old Testament.

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man take it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again ….. (John 10:17-18, KJV) (Italics inserted by writer.)

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43, KJV)

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. ….. (Isaiah 53:5-6, KJV)

And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. (Acts 8:30-35, KJV)

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3, KJV)

And you, being [spiritually] dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (Colossians 2:13-14, KJV) (The writer’s italics.)

… Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24, KJV)

The LDS detracts from the true meaning of the cross twice over, firstly by saying that the cross was where Christ was killed, intimating that the cross was nothing more than an instrument of execution, and then compounding this by wrongly teaching that Christ’s atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane. One can’t help but wonder what their motivation is in teaching these false doctrines, as they will not be found anywhere in the pages of the Bible, no matter how long or hard you search. On the contrary, the above scriptures very clearly tells us that Christ atoned for our sins on the cross at Calvary. Christ was fully aware that His suffering and death on the cross was the terrible price He would have to pay to cancel our debt of sin. But He voluntarily and selflessly chose to go through with it, for the likes of us:

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. (John 12: 31-33, KJV).

(Christ said:) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15, KJV)

From that time forth began Jesus to shrew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Matthew 16:21, KJV)

And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, KJV)

THE CHRISTIAN’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CROSS

The church I attend has a large cross behind the pulpit, with a crown of thorns resting on it. Hanging down next to it is a banner that reads, “He died for me”. This is very effective in stimulating sincere and fervent worship. And every time I enter the church, I am deeply humbled at the sight of that cross. It reminds me that the best, the bravest and most selfless Person ever, suffered and died for me, in my place, because of my sins. And my heart fills with gratitude. But that is just why the cross is there. It is to remind us of who we are, who Christ is, what He did for us, and how much we owe Him.

Mayer Pearlman had this to say concerning the Christian’s attitude towards the cross of Christ:

“The cross is the dynamo which generates in the human heart that response which constitutes the Christian life. ‘I’ll live for Him who died for me,’ states the dynamic of the cross. The Christian life is the soul’s reaction to the love of Christ. The cross of Christ inspires true repentance …..” (Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible, Part Two)

CHRIST’S SHED BLOOD COVERS THE SINS OF ALL WHO TRUST IN HIM

The LDS ignores what the Bible so clearly teaches, and insists that Christ’s atonement only covers the penalty for Adam’s sin and guarantees universal resurrection, thereby opening the way for us to earn the right to forgiveness of our own personal sins. Here are some scriptures that prove without a shadow of a doubt that Christ was crucified to pay the full price of all the sins of those who trust in Him for salvation:

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou salt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, KJV)

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew. 26:28, KJV)

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3, KJV)

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10, KJV)

… Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5, KJV)

CONCLUSION

We see from the above that Christ’s death on the cross was vicarious, in that He died in our place, to pay the price of our sins. And that’s why the cross was always central to the gospel message preached by the primitive church:

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23-24, KJV)

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, KJV)

Christians wear a cross as a testimony to their allegiance to Christ and as a symbol of their faith in His atonement for their sin through His sacrificial, substitutionary sacrifice on their behalf on the cross. And churches that follow the teachings of the Bible always prominently display a large cross at their place of worship, as a constant reminder to the congregation of who they once were (condemned sinners) and of what Christ has done for them (set them free from the guilt and the penalty of their sins). It also effectively reminds us of the terrible price He paid for our forgiveness.

The first lead that follows is to an article on the LDS temple, which includes a discussion on the banning of the cross as well as the use of inappropriate symbolism for a church that claims to be Christian. The second lead is to a discussion of some of the symbolism used by the Bible to explain hard to understand concepts such as salvation through a substitutionary sacrifice and so on. The third lead explains the differences between the LDS gospel and the gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught both by Himself and by His apostles in the New Testament.

LDS Temples Compared with those of Biblical Times

Baptism, Salvation and the Use of Biblical Symbolism

The LDS Gospel is Not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

http://www.bibtruth.com/cross.html

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Occultic and Masonic Influence in Early Mormonism By Joel B. Groat

The evidence of Joseph Smith’s close connection to occultism and Freemasonry, and how this influenced the origin and development of the LDS Church is not well known outside of scholarly circles. This article summarizes the evidence for Joseph’s personal involvement in both Freemasonry and occultism, and their influence on the Mormon religion.

“There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry.”
— Dr. Reed Durham, LDS Historian

Mormonism’s Link to Occultism

Both Joseph Smith and his father were involved in the occult practice known as “money digging.” This involved special rituals and ceremonies which were performed for the purpose of obtaining buried treasure thought to be guarded by evil spirits. Accounts of money digging during the late 1700s and early 1800s are documented in Alan Taylor’s article “Treasure Seeking in the American Northeast, 1780-1830”, published in American Quarterly, 38 [Spring 1986], pp. 6-34. This article specifically mentions Joseph Smith, Sr., and Jr., on pages 10-12, giving examples of their money digging activities. LDS seminary teacher Grant Palmer also documents the Smith family’s occult beliefs and practices, as well as those of their close associates, in his book An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, (SLC, Signature Books, 2002, pp. 175-195).

Joseph’s Involvement in Occultism. Joseph Smith, Jr.’s role in the quest for treasure was especially important since he had a seer stone. Joseph would place this small, special rock in his hat then pull the hat up to his face to block out all light. By doing this he claimed he could see supernaturally, and would help those who were digging by locating the place where the treasure was buried and observing the spirits that were guarding it. Joseph Jr., himself admitted to being a money digger, though he said it was never very profitable for him (History of the Church, V. 3, p. 29). He and his father’s money digging continued until at least 1826. On March 20th of that year Joseph was arrested, brought before a judge, and charged with being a “glass-looker” and a disorderly person. The laws at that time had what was known as the “Vagrant Act.” It defined a disorderly person as one who pretended to have skill in the areas of palmistry, telling fortunes or discovering where lost goods might be found. According to court records Justice Neely determined that Joseph was guilty, though no penalty was administered, quite possibly because this was a first offense (Inventing Mormonism, Marquardt and Walters, SLC: Signature Books, 1994, pp. 74-75).

Occultism and the Start of Mormonism. Shortly after this Joseph discontinued money digging but kept his seer stone. It was with the seer stone that he claimed to both find the plates and later produce the Book of Mormon. This was known by early converts but has since been replaced with later accounts of an angelic visitor. This transition was aided by downplaying the fact that Moroni was a dead Indian warrior, and by referring to him as an angel. Former BYU professor and historian D. Michael Quinn writes:

During this period from 1827 to 1830, Joseph Smith abandoned the company of his former money-digging associates, but continued to use for religious purposes the brown seer stone he had previously employed in the treasure quest. His most intensive and productive use of the seer stone was in the translation of the Book of Mormon. But he also dictated several revelations to his associates through the stone (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, D. Michael Quinn, Signature Books, SLC, 1987, p. 143.

This fact is supported by LDS author Richard S. Van Wagoner who found,

This stone, still retained by the First Presidency of the LDS Church, was the vehicle through which the golden plates were discovered and the medium through which their interpretation came (Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess, Signature Books, SLC, 1994, p. 57).

Thus we see that historians have documented a continuity between Joseph’s early occultic practices and the origins of Mormonism. This link extends to the development of the LDS Temple ceremony.

Occultic Parallels in the LDS Temple Ceremony. Historian D. Michael Quinn has done extensive research on rites and ancient mysteries related to occultism. He states,

By drawing only on authorized descriptions of the endowment by LDS leaders, I believe it is possible to see within historical context how the Mormon endowment reflected the ancient and occult mysteries far closer than Freemasonry (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, p. 186).

Quinn then outlines the following ten essential characteristics common to both occult rituals and the Mormon Temple ceremonies:

  • They are revealed by God from the beginning, but distorted through apostasy.
     
  • They place an emphasis on the worthiness of initiates.
     
  • They include washings and anointings, a new name and garments
     
  • They emphasize vows of non-disclosure.
     
  • There are both “lesser” and “greater” rituals.
     
  • They feature presentation of the ritual through drama.
     
  • They contain an oath of chastity requiring strict purity and virtue of the participants.
     
  • They feature prominent use of the sun, moon and stars as key symbols.
     
  • The purpose of the ritual is to assist mortals to attain to godhood.
     
  • They employ titles and offices of prophets, priests and kings to those in leadership.

After presenting this material Quinn comments,

To be sure Masonic rituals also shared some similarities with the ancient mysteries, but these were not linked to any concept of heavenly ascent, which was fundamental to both the occult mysteries and to the Mormon endowment. Therefore, what similarities may exist between Freemasonry and Mormonism seem more appropriately to be regarded as superficial, whereas the ancient occult mysteries and the Mormon endowment manifest both philosophical and structural kinship. (Ibid., p. 190).

Mormonism and Masonry

Masonry’s influence on Mormonism and Joseph Smith has been noted by a number of historians. Some of the areas impacted by Masonic lore and ritual include the Book of Mormon, Joseph’s personal life, and the LDS temple ceremony.

Masonic Themes Related to the Book of Mormon. John L. Brooke in his book The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844, noted the following in reference to the story of the discovery of the gold plates and the narrative structure of the Book of Mormon:

Freemasonry provides a point of entry into this very complex story. As it had been in Vermont, Masonic fraternity was a dominant feature of the cultural landscape in Joseph Smith’s Ontario County …. The dense network of lodges and chapters helps explain the Masonic symbolism that runs through the story of the discovery of the Golden Plates. Most obviously, the story of their discovery in a stone vault on a hilltop echoed the Enoch myth of Royal Arch Freemasonry, in which the prophet Enoch, instructed by a vision, preserved the Masonic mysteries by carving them on a golden plate that he placed in an arched stone vault marked with pillars, to be rediscovered by Solomon. In the years to come the prophet Enoch would play a central role in Smith’s emerging cosmology. Smith’s stories of his discoveries got more elaborate with time, and in June 1829 he promised Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris that they would see not only the plates but other marvelous artifacts: the Urim and Thummim attached to a priestly breastplate, the ‘sword of Laban,’ and ‘miraculous directors.’ Oliver Cowdery and Lucy Mack Smith later described three or four small pillars holding up the plates. All of these artifacts had Masonic analogues.

… Smith’s sources for these Masonic symbols were close at hand. Most obviously, Oliver Cowdery would have been a source, given that his father and brother were Royal Arch initiates; one Palmyra resident remembered Oliver Cowdery as ‘no church member and a Mason.’ … A comment by Lucy Mack Smith in her manuscript written in the 1840s, protesting that the family did not abandon all household labor to try ‘to win the faculty of Abrac, drawing magic circles, or sooth-saying,’ suggests a familiarity with Masonic manuals: the ‘faculty of Abrac’ was among the supposed Masonic mysteries (Refiner’s Fire, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 157-158).

However, it wasn’t until later in life that Joseph’s involvement became more personal.

Joseph’s Personal Involvement in Freemasonry. Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe stated:

Many of the Saints were Masons, such as Joseph’s brother Hyrum, Heber C. Kimball, Elijah Fordham, Newel K. Whitney, James Adams, and John C. Bennett …. With the acquiescence of the Prophet, members of the Church already Masons petitioned the Grand Master of Illinois for permission to set up a lodge in Nauvoo …. it was March 15, 1842, before authority was given to set up a lodge in Nauvoo and to induct new members. Joseph Smith became a member (Evidences and Reconciliations, 1 volume, pp. 357-358).

Joseph Smith admitted to being a Mason in his History of the Church, volume 4, page 551. Under the date of March 15, 1842 it reads: “In the evening I received the first degree in Free Masonry in the Nauvoo Lodge, assembled in my general business office.” The record for the next day reads, “I was with the Masonic Lodge and rose to the sublime degree” (page 552).

How did Joseph’s Masonic membership affect the development of the Mormon Church? The most significant area appears to be in the development of the Mormon temple ceremonies. As noted above, Joseph became a Mason on March 15, 1842 and “rose to the sublime degree” the following day. Less than two months later, on May 4, 1842, Joseph introduced the temple endowment ceremony (History of the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 1-2).

Masonry and Mormon Temple Ceremonies. The pervasive influence of Freemasonry in Mormon Temples is expressed well by LDS historian Dr. Reed Durham. Dr. Durham, who has served as president of the Mormon History Association, provides a number of interesting parallels between the two. He gives these as evidence for Masonry’s clear influence on Mormonism.

I am convinced that in the study of Masonry lies a pivotal key to further understanding Joseph Smith and the Church. . . . Masonry in the Church had its origin prior to the time Joseph Smith became a Mason …. It commenced in Joseph’s home when his older brother became a Mason. Hyrum received the first three degrees of Masonry in Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 of Palmyra, New York, at about the same time that Joseph was being initiated into the presence of God . . The many parallels found between early Mormonism and the Masonry of that day are substantial…

I have attempted thus far to demonstrate that Masonic influences upon Joseph in the early Church history, preceding his formal membership in Masonry, were significant. However, these same Masonic influences exerted a more dominant character as reflected in the further expansion of the Church subsequent to the Prophet’s Masonic membership. In fact, I believe that there are few significant developments in the Church, that occurred after March 15 1842, which did not have some Masonic interdependence. Let me comment on a few of these developments. There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry. This is not to suggest that no other source of inspiration could have been involved, but the similarities between the two ceremonies are so apparent and overwhelming that some dependent relationship cannot be denied. They are so similar, in fact, that one writer was led to refer to the Endowment as Celestial Masonry.

It is also obvious that the Nauvoo Temple architecture was in part, at least, Masonically influenced. Indeed, it appears that there was an intentional attempt to utilize Masonic symbols and motifs …

Another development in the Nauvoo Church, which has not been so obviously considered as Masonically inspired, was the establishment of the Female Relief Society. This organization was the Prophet’s intentional attempt to expand Masonry to include the women of the Church. That the Relief Society was organized in the Masonic Lodge room, and only one day after Masonry was given to the men, was not happenstance …. included in the actual vocabulary of Joseph Smith’s counsel and instructions to the sisters were such words as: ancient orders, examinations, degrees, candidates, secrets, lodges, rules, signs, tokens, order of the priesthood, and keys; all indicating that the Society’s orientation possessed Masonic overtones.

…. I suggest that enough evidence presently exists to declare that the entire institution of the political kingdom of God, including the Council of Fifty, the living constitution, the proposed flag of the kingdom, and the anointing and coronation of the king, had its genesis in connection with Masonic thoughts and ceremonies …. it appears that the Prophet first embraced Masonry, and, then in the process, he modified, expanded, amplified, or glorified it …. The Prophet believed that his mission was to restore all truth, and then to unify and weld it all together into one. This truth was referred to as ‘the Mysteries,’ and these Mysteries were inseparably connected with the Priesthood …. Can anyone deny that Masonic influence on Joseph Smith and the Church, either before or after his personal Masonic membership? The evidence demands comments …

There are many questions which still demand the answers …. if we, as Mormon historians, respond to these questions and myriads like them relative to Masonry in an ostrich-like fashion, with our heads buried in the traditional sand, then I submit: there never will be ‘any help for the widow’s son’ (Mormon Miscellaneous, October 1975, pp. 11-16, as cited in Changing World of Mormonism, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, 1981, pp. 546-547).

These statements demonstrate that much of the religious ritual within Mormonism finds its origin in both occultism and Freemasonry. It is not surprising that there is an overlap between occultism and Freemasonry within Mormonism since Masonry itself draws from occult lore and ritual. What becomes obvious is that Joseph neglected the Bible’s clear prohibition regarding occult involvement. This is found in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 which states in part,

… thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shalt not be found among you any one that … useth divination, or is an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits [demons], or a wizard, or a necromancer [one who communicates with the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD.


Resources

The following resources contain a more extensive treatment of Joseph Smith’s magical and occultic practices and worldview:

John L. Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844, Cambridge University Press, NY, 1994, 421 pages. This non-Mormon author is an associate professor in the Department of History at Tufts University.

Grant H. Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, (Signature Books, SLC, 2002, 281 pages). Palmer is an LDS seminary teacher and three-time director of LDS Institutes of Religion in California and Utah.

D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Signature Books, SLC, revised and enlarged edition 1998, 646 pages. This work is comprehensive and thoroughly documented. The author is a former BYU professor and one of the most respected historians of Mormonism.

Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, SLC, 1983, 97 pages. This former Mormon husband and wife research/publishing team are well-known for their carefully documented critiques of Mormonism.

http://www.irr.org/mit/masonry.html

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