By a Former Temple Worker
My wife and I worked for two years in the L.D.S. Temple in Manti, Utah. This is a temple where the ceremony is what they call "live": that is, unlike other temples, where much of the drama is presented by motion picture, in Manti there is no film. Everything is done in person by men and women who have been appointed and set apart as temple workers.
As a Mormon, I had come to believe that the temple was supposed to be the most sacred place on earth, a place where God did dwell.
When I first started working as a temple worker I was very excited to accept the calling. During all my life in the Mormon church I was told, and I believed, that the temple was the most sacred place on earth and that in the temple one could get closer to God than anywhere else. I was told that this was his house. I was also taught that the Adversary - that is, Lucifer - could not dwell in this holy place. I had been taught that belief by my Mormon friends and by church leaders.
The first day I started serving in the temple, I was amazed at all the conflict I saw between the temple president and his wife as they handled the affairs at the temple. There was resentment, arguing, bickering, jealousy, bad feelings back and forth and foul words that I would not use with my own family. Many of the other temple workers were not happy at all with the temple leadership. It seemed as if I was being placed in a dysfunctional home and could not get out. As time went by it got worse and worse until the presidency was finally changed. I thought it might get better then, but other problems came up.
At this time I was also serving in the Bishopric and we had as many problems in the temple as we did in our ward.
I had worked there for one year when I was called to the position of assistant supervisor over our shift. That required more meetings and more responsibility. One of my jobs sometimes was to gather up the used name tags that the patrons wore with the name of the dead person for whom they were going through the temple as proxy. These tags contained the name of the dead person so that temple workers could read the name off the tag when needed at various places in the ceremony. I would return the used name tags to the temple office, but then I found that the same names were used a second day, and to my amazement the same names were used for a third day. I thought, What is happining here? Why do they use the same names three days in a row? I asked my supervisor about it and he told me that they always used the names of all persons submitted to the temple for temple work for those three days consecutively, and then they are sent to another temple and used again the same way and so on and so on. I thought that this was very odd. It was as though they did not have enough names for patrons to use fresh names each day. Why would they waste the time of each member going through the temple for the same person for three days in a row, when the ceremony had already been done for that person the first time?.
The next concern I had was about the attendance for each temple session. Only three to fifteen church members were going through each session each hour of the day, hardly enough to make it worth while to even keep the temple open. Saturdays were the only days they had full sessions, which would have been about 125 church members per session. The church leadership was very concerned about temple attendance. Why were they not getting members out to the temple? This was a serious problem church-wide. It was determined that one of the main reasons for poor attendance was the ceremony itself, parts of which were very offensive to some patrons. So they conveniently removed and changed some of the more offensive parts in the ceremony, to try to increase attendance.
They also wanted to cut down the time it took to go through a temple session. Patrons were dissatisfied with how much time was spent in going to the temple. So the leaders felt that if they cut down the time maybe more would attend. They had already cut the ceremony down several times from its original eight-hour verson in the early 1900s to four hour sessions in mid 1900s, then to two and one half hours per session in about 1970, to one hour and forty five minite sessions in 1990. The sessions would start at 7:30A.M. and run every hour until 9:30 P.M.
Apparently the prophet was so concerned about attendance and numbers he sent a bulletin to all the temples asking help in trying to find out what to do to increase temple attendance. So at the temple meetings leadership asked for suggestions as to how to get members to attend the temple. It was decided that each ward would be asked to get at least 15 couples or more to attend the temple daily. That was a joke, trying to get more members to attend or to make a showing. It seemed the church was more concerned about numbers than dealing with personal feelings and making it worth while for patrons and temple workers, who were giving their free time to work through the daily sessions. They even suggested that certain couples be called on a one year mission just to serve as patrons to go through temple sessions. They tried everything. Anyway, temple attendance was and had been for several years very, very low.
After serving and going through sessions and learning the temple ceremony I wondered why anyone would attend the temple ceremony. Most people who had been through it more than a few times thought it was boring, most people went to sleep during sessions, or did not pay attention. Those going to the temple for the first time often felt very uncomfortable, but because everyone acted as though it was sacred and important, they just figured that there was something wrong with themselves. They were told to come back often and then they would understand better what the ceremony was about. I think that most first-timers left with fear and amazement as to their frightful experience.
When I attended another temple in another city they had a sign in the foyer asking for volunteers to work in the temple. The sign was posted for a year and may still even be there today. That was in a town with a 75% Mormon population and many retired couples. I always wondered why there was such a problem getting church members to attend the temple. There was just no interest. While I was serving in two bishoprics over a five-year period, it was always a serious problem to get church members to attend the temple even once every two months, and the church leaders suggest one should attend at least weekly.
The changes in the temple ceremony have been very drastic since the original temple ceremony was instituted by Joseph Smith. One of those changes involved something that really bothered me, which was removed in about 1927. It was a part of the temple ceremony up to that date, called The LAW OF VENGEANCE. Temple patrons were told to stand and raise their right arms to the square and told: "You and each of you do solemnly promise and vow that you will pray, and never cease to pray, and never cease to importune high heaven to avenge the blood of the prophets on this nation, and that you will teach this to your children and your children's children unto the third and fourth generation. All bow your heads and say yes." Does this sound like a Christian church if there is no room for forgiveness?. This oath was one of the main reasons that 125 people - men, women and children - were killed (shot mostly in the head) by members of the Mormon church in 1857. And then the church tried to cover it up and blame it on the Indains. These horrible murders in southern Utah were later known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The participants who did the killing were commanded by local church leaders to "do their duty" .... and that was to shoot and kill the men, women and children above the age of seven years of age, so there would be no witnesses. They were commanded to avenge the death of the prophets.
I found the Mormon temple not at all like I had been taught to believe it would be. The temple ceremony was one of the main reasons I left the Mormon church. I soon realized the Mormon church was not the church I had been told it was or I thought it was. It certainly was not the church of God as I had been told.
Many who came to the temple never wanted to come back. It was a very depressing experience for me and my wife and very sickening, especially if one believes that it was designed by God. I was ashamed of having served there, after I found out the truth. I realized I could no longer serve a God who was so changable, violent and deceptive.
The temple ceremony used in the Mormon Church was copied after the Masonic order that Joseph Smith belonged to, as did other members of his family. If you read the Masonic temple ceremony you will find it almost identical.
I am glad I left the Mormon church when I did after thirty-five years of dedicated service. I really call it imprisonment of the mind and body. We are now free to enjoy the rest of our lives in peace. Thanks to God for opening my mind to the deceptions of Mormonism before my life was over. I hope members in the Mormon church can begin to think for themselves, instead of allowing the church to do their thinking for them, and realize that the Mormon church is not at all that it purports itself to be. In my experience the Mormon church claims it is a church that brings families together, but I have in my thirty-five years of experience found just the opposite: it separates more families than it has ever brought together.
The Mormon church claims an 11 million membership, and the truth is that only 35-40% are active in the religion. I found myself and others in Mormonism to be very judgemental with others, and church members would look down on others that were not members, either feeling better than them or feeling they were not going to heaven unless they joined the Mormon church. That is in itself a sin, to judge others. If the Mormon people would spend as much of their time judging themselves and allowing others to live their own lives, as they do judging others, they would be a better group of people. - "Happy"