Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Conspiracy theories about Satanic symbols

      Conspiracy theorists like to say that the use of certain symbols on Mormon temples, particularly the inverted pentagram, is evidence of Satan worship or other elements of the occult in Mormonism. History begs to differ with these notions.

       The inverted pentagram (upside-down five-pointed star) was first used on a Mormon temple in the mid-1840s. Back then, the symbol was not yet associated with Satanism. In fact, it was a Christian symbol. With one point up, it symbolized the five wounds of Christ (nails in the hands and feet; spear wound in the side), and with one point down, it symbolized the Morning Star or Star of Bethlehem, pointing down to where the Christ child lay in the manger. That is the sense in which it is used on the Nauvoo Temple and on other temples since then.

      Other symbols used on temples include circles and squares, which traditionally represent heaven and earth; the sun, moon, and stars, to represent both God's creations in the heavens and the three kingdoms of heaven as understood in Mormonism (see 1 Cor. 15:40-42 and Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76); trumpets, to represent the preaching of the gospel; clasped hands, to represent covenants with God and fellowship with man; and an all-seeing eye, a symbol common in everything from ancient Egyptian religion to Freemasonry to Christianity to the back of the dollar bill, to represent the omniscience of God.

      Claim whatever they might, there is nothing Satanic or occult about Mormonism or Mormon temples. Mormon temple ceremonies focus on Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and the family. But people are often suspicious of things with which they're unfamiliar, and sometimes they invent sensational stories rather than learn the truth.

In summary
Argument: The presence of inverted pentagrams and other symbols on Mormon temples is evidence that Mormonism is actually a satanic cult.
Response: The use of inverted pentagrams on Mormon temples began before that symbol was connected with Satanism. Originally, it was a Christian symbol, and that is how it is used in temple architecture.


Travis Brinton said...

I rejected a rambling comment by "Stacey" complaining about a laundry list of things. The accusations were anecdotal and disconnected, but generally tended to imply that Mormonism is oppressive and a scam that uses fear and humiliation to control people. It ignores the fact that Mormonism has no professional clergy, so if it's a fraud and a scam, we're defrauding, scamming, and humiliating ourselves. The logic doesn't hold up, but it's not about that; it appears that Stacey has a grudge. I'm sorry that you got rubbed the wrong way, Stacey, but this is not a forum to debate or attack Mormonism; it's a place for people who want to understand the religion to get answers to their sincere questions.

sirhood2 said...

What about all the false prophesies of Joe Smith? 99% of them did not come to pass. If he was a true prophet, each one of them would come to pass when he prophesied they would, but they did not. One can tell a true prophet from a false one by his prophesies. If someone calles himself a prophet, and even ONE prophesy does not come to pass, in the case of Joseph Smith, it makes him a false prophet. How then, can anyone believe anything he said? Smith was a false prophet. Plain and simple.

Travis Brinton said...

That last comment by "sirhood2" toes the line--again, the purpose of commenting on this blog is to ask sincere questions, not to make attacks--but since there was a question, I'm publishing it and answering.

"What about all the false prophecies of Joe Smith?" What false prophecies? You failed to name any. I could list quite a few fulfilled ones--for one example, take his prophecy of the Civil War, recorded as D&C 130, or his prophecies regarding the future relocation of the church he founded to the Rocky Mountains, its worldwide expansion, and its future growth.

Some of the things that critics attack as "false prophecies" were stated in a conditional way, and the responsible parties didn't fulfill that condition, so they forfeited the blessing. In other cases, it's not that the prophecy failed; it's still waiting to be fulfilled. The same could be said of many of the prophecies in the Bible, such as prophecies of the Second Coming.

Anonymous said...

The Critics, many who are "Christians," & who make these claims of there being "satanic" symbols on the Salt Lake Temple, eagle gate, & other places; have to misinterpret such symbols to make these false charges. Ironically, their own symbols wouldn't be able to pass their own tests & misinterpretations, if their own symbols were misinterpreted by their own tactics. It's also ironic how the same critics will vilify Mormons for being good, for "working their way to heaven" by doing "good works," when, as they say, "we're saved by grace alone!" LDS temple goers are asked by LDS leaders, to be good, keep the commandments, follow Christ's teachings. So it's ironic that critics' continue to vilify the LDS by the use of satanic disinformation methods, like the early anti-Christians did.

You Tube: Disinformation tactics exposed: Satanic Symbols Everywhere? http://www.youtube.com/user/JustinMartyrJr?feature=mhee#p/c/CD47FA2CC7176BA2/3/b4nXK6sSVnM


Brimmi said...

These signs on the Lds temple where not satanic when the chuch was build, but they are today, and there is also a baal sign on the temple, and more. Most people know that the downward pointing pentagram is a satanic sign. Since GOD can see into the future, don´t you think that it´s odd that he would allow to have a satanic signs on "his" church? Most christians don´t see the mormons as christians. If you lie, you die, it is a sin to lie,and Joseph Smith did a lot of that, but the mormons are not willing to accept that fact, do they all have the asperger syndrome? And they are also not keeping the seventh day holy as Jesus did, they keep the sunday holy,the day of the sun!!!

Travis Brinton said...

My policy is to only allow comments that are asking genuine questions, not that are simply attacking Mormonism. I allowed Brimmi's comment in spite of my better judgment because it does ask a few questions, and because it gives me a good topic for a future post.

Q1. If God can see the future, why would he allow symbols on temples which would later become associated with the occult?
A. First, God doesn't micromanage everything the LDS Church does by direct revelation. D&C 58:26: "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things..." Just because we have a prophet of God at our head does not mean that every design detail of a temple is the result of revelation.
But even if God did reveal every design detail, Satan intentionally usurps Christian symbols. For instance, he usurped the symbol of the snake, which represents Christ in Numbers 2:19 and John 3:!4 but represents the devil in Rev. 12:9.

One might as well ask, "Why would God allow Jesus to be crucified, since God knew that the Crusaders, the KKK, and others would later use the cross as the symbol under which to commit atrocities?" The answer is because if another symbol had been used, it would've been associated with evil instead of the cross. The same may be true of the pentagram or any other formerly Christian symbol.

Q2. Why do you observe the first day of the week as the Sabbath instead of the seventh, according to the Old Testament custom?
A. I think I'll write a blog post about this sometime, but here's the quick answer: In Old Testament times, the 7th day was the Sabbath to commemorate God resting after the creation. Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday, so thereafter, Christians celebrated Sunday as "the Lord's Day," on which they worshiped and partook of the Lord's Supper, and eventually it replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Acts 20:7.

3. This is just a pet peeve, but seriously, please proofread your comment before posting. It was barely legible in places.

The Exposer said...

Hello, there! I am a Latter-day Saint and I do have a genuine question to which I am looking for further clarification and understanding. It has to do more with doing missionary work, in terms of being able to answer more effectively people's questions concerning why Joseph Smith had to be a 33 degree Mason (and Brigham Young as well)? What I tell them is that we believe that all religions have truths and parts of the whole truth; the Masons, for example, had truths concerning the Temple, the way it should be built and some of the ceremonies that take place inside of it; so, in order to receive further knowledge on those matters, Joseph Smith joined the Free Masons and reached the highest level of their hierarchy, so he could get in touch to all the truths concerning those things that they keep only for trustworthy members of their society.
Yet, I still feel that is not all. I and many people in the world are well aware that the Free Masons are a secret society or organization that in their lodges they create conspiracies and political plots or "secret combinations" with their secret signs and oaths, as written in the Book of Mormon: “And now, my son, I command you that ye retain all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall keep from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed.” (Alma 37:27); “Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman; but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit—Yea, that same being who did plot with Cain, that if he would murder his brother Abel it should not be known unto the world. And he did plot with Cain and his followers from that time forth” (Helaman 6:27). So, I found all that for quite disturbing, how much more people who do not belong to our faith and do not share our testimony of the truth? I think that Satan, who stands it looks like behind all religions in the world which do not have the fullness of the truth, manipulates people’s minds and beliefs by using truths which he is aware of, and twisting them and mixing them with his lies – because he is unable to create something entirely new; so, the only thing he’s left to do is to create false beliefs and religions by using the foundations of true principles and precepts; otherwise no one who consider themselves as a reasonable human being, would not be attracted by his precepts if they were entirely based on lies and false concepts: “… and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance” (2 Nephi 28:22); which confirms President Boyd K. Packer’s words: «People don't get in serious trouble in one step. I don't think anyone steps off a precipice into the depths of immorality and apostasy. They slide down the slippery sides of the chasm» (Improvement Era, May 1970, p. 7). So, what I personally believe is that the Masonic organization is a very well disguised evil order, one that pretend to support good principles and humanism in its core, even a belief in Christ himself, but in reality driven by completely different motives – “to get gain” (Mormon 8:40) and to aspire to greater power and authority over the nations as to exercise power and control over them by ways of compulsion – which is pure evil, pure Satanism. Considering all those evidences and charges against the Masons, how do we justify Joseph Smith’s membership in their “secret society” to the world, considering that the Book of Mormon itself, which he did translate, warns us of those “secret abominations” when they appear in our world (see Ether 8:22-26)? “For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations” (Ether 8:19). Thank you preliminary for your cooperation!

Additional scriptures for reference: 2 Nephi 26:20-22; Mormon 8:27; Ether 8:22-26

Travis Brinton said...

My response is too long for one comment, so I'm splitting it in two. Here's Part 1:
Thanks for your question. My answers always represent my own opinion, since I can't speak for the church, but on this topic especially I'm not aware of any official church position, so please take everything I say as just that: my opinion.
The LDS temple ceremony is a New Testament Gospel version of the Old Testament ceremonies of the Jewish temple. The rites of Freemasonry claim to originate with the construction of Solomon's Temple. If that claim is true, then one would expect to see many similarities.
However, the historical evidence suggests that Freemasonry originated no earlier than the Middle Ages. That does not rule out the possibility that Masonic symbols and rites were adapted from yet older sources that can indeed be traced back to Solomon's Temple. Freemasonry adopted many of its symbols from the Knights Templar, who were obsessed with Solomon's Temple and may have picked up the vestiges of temple ceremonies when they had their headquarters on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Crusades.
Regardless of the precise pedigree of the Masonic rituals, it is clear that they have much in common with many other ancient sources. Hugh Nibley has written extensively on the topic, showing the similarities not just between the LDS temple ceremony and Freemasonry, but between the temple ceremony and everything from Jewish to Egyptian to Far Eastern ancient religion.
So how did the markedly similar aspects from Freemasonry come to be in the temple ceremony? I think it is a combination of two things:
1) Some of the symbolism that God revealed to his ancient prophets has spread throughout many cultures, which have appropriated symbols and incorporated them into their own religions. In the Pearl of Great Price, we read that Pharaoh did this with the Priesthood order (Abr. 1:26). So when God revealed the temple ceremony to Joseph Smith, it bore similarities to many other traditions--including many that it does not share with Freemasonry--because they also contained traces of the truth.
2) It is also possible that some of the similarities are due to Joseph Smith drawing on the symbols he knew from Freemasonry as a means to express revealed truth. But fewer similarities are likely to be due to this possibility than it is tempting to think. Joseph Smith laid the groundwork for the endowment ceremony before becoming a Mason.
It's also important to note that 1) many of the symbols common to the two ceremonies mean something completely different in the LDS temple than they do in Freemasonry, and 2) as notable as are the similarities, there are even more significant differences. To give just one example, rank and hierarchy permeates every aspect of Masonry, whereas the endowment ceremony is at pains to remove any sign of inequality or elitism from among the participants.
Regarding your suspicions about the insidious nature of Freemasonry, I cannot say with certainty, since I am not a Freemason, but I have serious doubts. The secret rites of Freemasonry have been exposed many times over, and there is nothing particularly insidious about them. Freemasonry is a fraternal organization, and in the days before our modern welfare state, it served as social security for its members. Back then, insurance against unforeseen financial or health difficulties was mainly provided through family and community networks. Freemasonry provided another such network.

Travis Brinton said...

Response, Part 2:
On the other hand, one could interpret pledges to support the members of the group as a devious and insular plot to "get gain" and to amass power, and certainly that is how Freemasonry was seen by, for instance, the Anti-Masonic Party during the early 19th century. But many of our most respected Founding Fathers were Masons (e.g., Washington and Franklin), and many others were not (e.g., Adams, Madison, and Jefferson).
Furthermore, there is the fact that Masonry's steady decline parallels the growth of the welfare state. That is not what we would expect if Masonry were primarily about amassing power and wealth for its members. Nor would we expect Masons to permit the institution of the very social programs that would make Freemasonry obsolete, if we believed that the purpose of the organization was to promote its own power and control governments. (FDR was himself a Mason.)
Finally, I don't believe that the secrecy of the Masonic rituals (which actually aren't that secret, as I've noted) is itself damning. Note that Alma commanded his son Helaman to not reveal the secret oaths of the Gadianton robbers to the people, lest they reinstitute the secret combinations and cause their own destruction. So not just any secret promise or ritual is evil; it's these particular ones which are so dangerous, and it's their goals--to get gain, to amass power, to murder, and to enforce such secrecy by threat of death. I know of no allegation that Freemasonry murders anyone; only that they build rest homes for their members and donate to charity, and that quite a few of them have been very prominent and respected members of society, which is to be expected given the number and sort of people who historically joined.
Don't misunderstand: I'm not saying we should disregard Alma's warning. I think that we do have secret combinations among us today. Drug cartels and crime rings are the first ones that come to mind. But as for Masonry, remember that similar suspicions have been entertained about Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Jews, and all of it has turned out to be unwarranted paranoia that has caused much persecution and suffering.
In summary: The similarities between the LDS endowment ceremony and the rites of Freemasonry are probably due to the fact that the Masonic rites contain many vestiges of the original true priesthood ceremonies. But it is also probably true, to some degree or other, that Joseph Smith borrowed and repurposed Masonic symbols as a means to convey gospel truths. I am skeptical of conspiracy theories about Freemasonry; there isn't much evidence to support the idea that it is an evil plot to get gain and control the world. I see drug cartels and crime rings, not fraternal support organizations, as the modern equivalent of the Gadianton Robbers.

Travis Brinton said...

I had to reject a comment here by someone apparently named Burt because it contained 1) no sincere questions and 2) the author's personal email address, which I assume he didn't want to be public.
In short, he says that my defense here is flabby and that LDS beliefs are laughable and contrary to the Bible--but he doesn't actually posit any arguments to be evaluated; just conclusions. He wonders why there is so much secrecy in both Freemasonry and Mormonism. (Answer: In the former, it's to promote a sense of camaraderie--when you entrust someone with a secret, they feel like they're part of the group and ought to live up to that trust. In Mormonism, it's to promote respect for sacred things, namely temple ceremonies.) Then he says that Satan is the head of our church, but it's a big secret that "they" (whoever that is) don't tell the average members--and as evidence, he cites a disaffected ex-Mormon who writes anti-Mormon books. We're supposed to think said author is a reliable source because he once was an average Mormon--but we're also supposed to believe that average Mormons aren't privy to the religion's deep dark secrets!
As a final piece of irrefutable evidence, Burt says he had dreams that Mormonism is false.
'Nuff said.

James Elfers said...

Aren't the symbols mostly Masonic? Many of the symbols Joseph Smith incorporated in his belief system came from the already existing Masonic Temples and rituals. While some are associated with the occult today originally they came from the Freemasons. Wouldn't an original movement use original symbols?

The early Christians developed the Ichthys which was unique to them.

Roman iconography was unique to Roman belief systems even when the particular deity was borrowed from the Greeks.

The Muslims and the Hindus and Buddhists for example invented their own symbols for their own religion.

Joseph Smith took existing symbols. Was it a lack of imagination? Is it not evidence of an earthly inspiration rather than a heavenly one?

Travis Brinton said...

To James Eifers:
It's very significant that the original Christian symbol you cite is the ichthys, not the cross. The reason you didn't mention the cross, of course, is that it wasn't original to Christianity. Its particular significance in Christianity is unique, but crosses were used as symbols before Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with Christians using that symbol to mean something unique within their own tradition. Nor is there anything wrong with Joseph Smith adopting symbols from other traditions and applying them in new ways within the context of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. God speaks to our understanding, and he uses all sorts of methods to do so, including symbolism. Just as he speaks in language we will understand, he also uses symbols we will understand.
Just as one example, however, of a symbol that is indeed unique to Mormonism, there's the symbol of the seagull used to represent God's miraculous deliverance of his people.

Lyn Phillips said...

"do they all have the Asperger's syndrome?"
I don't understand what you are you trying to say? For one thing, those who are blessed with Asperger's syndrome love the truth, and have a hard time with lies.

Anyway, thank you for the article. It's very informative.

Anonymous said...

First of all you need to get your history and facts right.

The earliest known use of the pentagram can be found around 3500 BC at Ur of the Chaldees in Ancient Mesopotamia.

To the Satanist, this glyph is a representation of “Black magic,” symbolizing the triumph of matter and individual desires over religious dogma- earth over an illusory promise of heaven. It is not analogous to the upturned cross (which is a symbol of rebellion against Christian culture), and is not “anti-Wiccan.”

Why is there an encircled inverted pentagram on the front of the Mormon Church History Building. Why is Moroni called "The angel of light" when the Bible states that Satan/Lucifer is called "The angel of light" How could Lehi and his people make the trip to the americas in submarines... when the very first successful submarine was not invented until 1620...? They supposedly took 2 of every animal on these 8 subs. Did you know that ONE cow will eat approx 24lbs of hay each day. That equals out to 8760lbs in one year... and will drink over 6000 gallons of water. If they took 2 of every animal....those subs must have been enormus. Oh and who had the knowledge back the build them...? NO ONE...!

What about Joe Smith stating as a prophet that the moon was inhabited by prople dress like quakers, who were 7 feet tall and lived to be 100 years old....? Little did he know that when he made this statement as the prophet, that on July 16, 1969 Neil Armstrong would step onto the surface of the moon and find absolutely NOTHING!

Mormonism stands or falls on the validity of Joseph Smith's tales.... from the evidences and proof listed above..... HE WAS A LIAR AND A FALSE PROPHET.... making everything about Mormonism a lie.

I pray that anyone reading this will find the TRUE JESUS of the Bible.... who die for our sins. It is a FREE Gift.... not of anything we can do to earn it....all you have to do is believe by faith and you will be saved. Eph 2:8-10

Travis Brinton said...

I can't tell if this person is a troll or is actually lecturing me on getting my facts right, but I'm going to answer this, despite the fact that the person either didn't read or decided to ignore the comments policy, because I'm bored.

First, the pentagram didn't acquire any Satanic association until the late 19th century. It has not been a Satanic symbol since 3500 BC simply because modern Satanists see it that way. I recommend you read the Wikipedia article on pentagrams. A pentagram appears on the Church History Library alongside other symbols and images of early LDS temples which were built before the pentagram had any occult meaning. If you insist that we ought to have stopped using pentagrams after Satanists decided they liked the symbol, then that same logic would require that Christians (non-racist ones, anyway) should've stopped using the cross after the KKK adopted it.

Moroni is not referred to as "the angel of light."

Lehi and his people built a ship, not submarines. They did not take two of every animal on their ship. You must be thinking of Noah.

The only record of Joseph Smith saying anything about the moon being inhabited is a third-hand account from more than 30 years after he died—hardly reliable. Even if he did say such a thing (and Brigham Young apparently did), he would've been repeating an idea that was an accepted belief in the 19th century. We do not teach that prophets are infallible or that every word from their mouths is direct revelation. When they are not speaking by revelation, they are speaking as mere humans with opinions. For a few Biblical examples of true prophets who were nevertheless mistaken or confused, see Joshua 9 (Joshua is fooled by the Gibeonites), 1 Kings 13:11-19 (one prophet lies to and deceives another prophet), and 1 Tim. 2:11-12 and 1 Cor. 14:34-35 (Paul shares his opinion that women shouldn't speak in church and should depend upon their husbands for information).

By the way, if you're a Bible-believing Christian, you shouldn't argue that miracles are proof of fraud, or that Noah's ark was impossible. That would cut quite against you.