Was Joseph Smith A Freemason: Exploring The Connection

Diving into the intriguing crossroads of history where Mormonism meets Freemasonry, I find myself on a quest: Was Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, also a Freemason?

To provide a well-rounded understanding, it is essential to examine the various connections between Smith, his influential role in the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Freemasonry.

By exploring these connections, I aim to provide a clear and neutral insight into the relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry and determine whether Joseph Smith was, indeed, a Freemason.

Please note, throughout this article, I will use “LDS” as an abbreviation for “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” for the sake of brevity. Please understand that whenever you see “LDS,” it refers to this religious organization.

Was Joseph Smith A Freemason?

Joseph Smith was a Freemason. He was initiated in Nauvoo, Illinois, on March 15, 1842. Smith’s Freemasonry membership significantly influenced the Latter-Day Saint movement. Some rituals and symbols used in the LDS Church, particularly in temple ceremonies, bear similarities to Masonic traditions.

Joseph Smith was indeed a Freemason, but the complexity surrounding this topic continues to ignite debate. The intricate relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry further adds to the controversy.

To unravel these tangled threads, we’ll delve into the most reliable historical documents and evidence in the following sections, bringing clarity to these intriguing relationships.

Early Connections, Smith Family, and Freemasonry

The relationship between Joseph Smith and Freemasonry started early in his life. In fact, his older brother, Hyrum, and possibly his father, were Freemasons while the family lived near Palmyra, New York.

During the late 1820s, the western New York region experienced a wave of anti-Masonic fervor.

Despite these sentiments, the links between Freemasonry and the Smith family would persist and later play a role in the development of the religious movement Joseph would found.

Through these early connections and familial influences, it becomes evident that Freemasonry played a significant role in the life of Joseph Smith and his family.

As we have explored these connections, the intertwined history of Freemasonry and the Latter-Day Saint movement becomes even more fascinating.

Mormonism and Freemasonry Similarities

Both Mormonism and Freemasonry share certain elements in rituals, symbols, and moral teachings.

Rituals and Symbols

Both Mormonism and Freemasonry incorporate rituals and symbols into their practices.

In Masonic ceremonies, various symbols are used to convey moral lessons and teach initiates about the fraternity’s principles.

Likewise, in Mormonism, symbols are prevalent in temple ceremonies and the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For example, the square and compass, symbols in Freemasonry, can be seen in some historical Mormon temple architecture.

Moral Teachings

The moral teachings of Freemasonry center around the development of personal integrity, honesty, and virtue, which are also key values within Mormonism.

Though the specific teachings may differ, both religious movements emphasize the importance of being upright, charitable, and striving for personal improvement.

This common ground forms a basis for some of the connections that exist between Mormonism and Freemasonry.

I need to explain more to avoid misunderstanding the relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry. Although they have similarities as above, it should be noted that they are two different organizations. Therefore, they also have differences in beliefs and practices.

Joseph Smith’s Initiation into Freemasonry

Nauvoo, an early settlement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was notable for its Freemason members, including Joseph Smith, who joined the organization there.

Process and Ceremony

Joseph Smith became a Freemason in Nauvoo on March 15, 1842. He was initiated at the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge and participated in the traditional ceremonies associated with the organization.

The ceremonies and rituals Joseph Smith experienced were common to Freemasons at that time.

Prominent Freemasons in Nauvoo

There were several significant figures who were Freemasons in Nauvoo during the time of Joseph Smith.

Some of these individuals were closely related to the early Church, including Joseph Smith’s older brother, Hyrum, and some of the first five Latter-day Saint prophets, such as Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow.

All of these men were members of Freemasonry and would later hold influential roles within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nauvoo served as a meeting place for notable Freemasons, and the connections they established during this time would influence the future development of the Church.

Impact of Freemasonry on LDS Church

Now, we will focus on the influence of Freemasonry on the temple endowment and its connections to church leadership.

Influence on Temple Endowment

It is interesting to note that the LDS temple ceremonies were introduced just a few months after Smith’s initiation into Freemasonry.

As mentioned, there are certain similarities between the Masonic rituals and the LDS temple ceremonies.

Despite these similarities, it is important to understand that the endowment ceremony also contains unique teachings and doctrines specific to the LDS faith.

Masonry and Church Leadership

Several early LDS leaders were also members of the Freemasonry fraternity.

In fact, the first five Latter-day prophets – Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow – were all Freemasons. They joined the fraternity while living in Nauvoo with the Latter-day Saints.

It is worth mentioning that this connection to Freemasonry was not just limited to the early leaders, as many prominent church leaders throughout history have also been connected to the Fraternity.

Controversies and Reactions

I have come across various controversies and reactions regarding Joseph Smith’s involvement with Freemasonry. In this section, I will discuss two major controversies: Accusations of Plagiarism and Excommunication of Freemasons from the LDS Church. My aim is to provide an informed and unbiased perspective on these topics.

Accusations of Plagiarism

Many critics have accused Joseph Smith of plagiarizing Masonic rituals for the creation of temple ordinances in the Latter-day Saints Church.

It is well-documented that Joseph Smith and other early LDS leaders were members of the Freemasons. However, no concrete evidence has been found to definitively prove that Smith directly plagiarized Masonic rituals.

Both Mormon temple ceremonies and Masonic rituals contain symbolic elements that can be traced back to ancient religious and spiritual practices.

Nevertheless, similarities between the two, such as the use of aprons, handshakes, and symbolic gestures, have raised suspicions among critics.

While it is possible that Joseph Smith may have been influenced by Masonic ideas, I believe it’s important to consider the nuances and complexities of both sets of practices before drawing definitive conclusions.

Excommunication of Freemasons from LDS Church

Another controversy revolves around the excommunication of Freemasons from the LDS Church.

In the early days of the LDS Church, many high-ranking officials, including Joseph Smith, were active Freemasons.

However, sometime after Smith’s death, the LDS Church began distancing itself from Freemasonry, leading to instances of excommunication.

The motivations for these excommunications are not entirely clear. Speculations suggest that concerns over allegiance and loyalty, as well as the perception of competing interests or beliefs, may have played a role.

While there is no official LDS Church statement on this issue, it is essential for an informed discussion, keeping in mind the historical context of these events as well as the evolving relationship between the two organizations over the years.


So, in this article, we have examined the relationship between Joseph Smith and Freemasonry, and it is evident that there is a historical connection between the two.

Smith’s older brother, Hyrum, and possibly his father were Freemasons while the family lived near Palmyra, New York. Moreover, Joseph Smith became a Freemason himself and remained one until his death.

As for the relationship between Masonic lodge rites and Latter-day Saint temple ordinances, there are some similarities, although these should not be interpreted as plagiarism or imitation. Both institutions emphasize morality, the importance of ritual, and a strong sense of community.

However, the Latter-day Saint temple ceremonies have a distinctly theological focus with sacred covenants and the central themes of redemption, salvation, and exaltation, while Freemasonry is more focused on fraternity, moral improvement, and community service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Did Joseph Smith’s Freemasonry influence the founding of Mormonism?

Yes, it is widely believed that Joseph Smith’s involvement with Freemasonry had an influence on the founding of Mormonism. However, it is important to note that the teachings of Mormonism are seen as distinct from Masonic principles. While there are similarities between the two, they hold different beliefs and practices.

Was the Endowment Ceremony influenced by Freemasonry?

There are similarities between the LDS Endowment Ceremony and Freemasonry rituals, and it is thought that Joseph Smith’s exposure to Masonic rituals influenced the development of the Endowment Ceremony. For example, certain symbols, hand gestures, and clothing resemble those used in Masonic ceremonies. Nonetheless, the theological context and meaning behind these rituals in the LDS faith are different from Freemasonry.

What Masonic symbols are present in LDS temple architecture and ceremonies?

There are several Masonic symbols present in LDS temple architecture and ceremonies. Some examples include the use of the square and compass, the beehive, and the handshake. Additionally, certain clothing and hand gestures used in LDS ceremonies are similar to those in Masonic rituals. However, it should be emphasized that these symbols and practices hold different meanings and contexts within the LDS faith compared to Freemasonry.

How did Joseph Smith’s Freemason membership impact his relationships with non-Mormons?

Joseph Smith’s Freemason membership caused tension between the LDS community and non-Mormon Masons in Illinois and the surrounding areas. After his death, some Church members believed that Joseph might have been invoking a Masonic call of distress in his final moments, which further fueled feelings of betrayal between the groups. In October 1844, the Grand Lodge severed its ties with the Latter-day Saints.

Did Joseph Smith use Masonic teachings to create the Book of Mormon?

While the relationship between Masonic teachings and the Book of Mormon is a topic of debate, it is generally believed that Joseph Smith did not directly use Masonic teachings to create the Book of Mormon. Though there are similarities between some aspects of Mormonism and Freemasonry, the doctrines and core beliefs of the two organizations are fundamentally distinct.