This YouTube video shows what it claims to be an "endowment ceremony" recorded using a hidden camera in 2012. The description below the video says that

The audio portion of this video was recorded in a Mormon Temple "endowment ceremony" in 1984. The video portion was recorded in a Mormon Temple in 2012 with the 1984 audio playing over the appropriate part of the video in an effort to reenact one of the penalties (aka "blood oaths") as they were prior to April, 1990.

This video represents what the penalty for revealing the 1st token of the Melchizedek Priesthood prior to April, 1990. The Mormon (aka LDS) Church removed the "penalties" from the endowment ceremony in April, 1990. In addition to pantomiming their own disembowelment, all participants would also draw their right thumb across their own throat in a slitting motion and they would also make a clawing motion on their chest to pantomime having their own heart ripped from their chest.

At the beginning, the video says:

Prior to April, 1990, everyone who participated in the Mormon Temple endowment ceremony was required to swear oaths of secrecy that were punishable by death.

Did Mormons actually have a ceremony as described above before April 1990? If they did, which part of the canon is the ceremony based on?

  • 5
    The LDS temple ceremony is sacred and members who do enter the temple take oaths not to discuss it outside the temple (even among members). To know what LDS can talk about outside of the temple see the Temple Prep manual: lds.org/manual/… or lds.org/manual/preparing-to-enter-the-holy-temple/…
    – depperm
    Jun 29, 2017 at 19:29
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    Beware of any source that openly and casually discusses or makes claims about the LDS temple ceremonies and ordinances, since nobody who does so is in good standing with the Church and thus is not a credible source of information.
    – Matt
    Jun 29, 2017 at 20:13
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    @SethWhite that is not an official LDS site, take into consideration Matt's comment
    – depperm
    Jun 29, 2017 at 20:43
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    @depperm While it is not an official LDS site or publication, I have verified that it is an accurate portrayal of the ceremony with members of the LDS faith.
    – SethWhite
    Jun 29, 2017 at 20:59
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    Ladies & Gentlemen, while it is true there are only specific portions of the ceremony we members covenant to keep secret, the ceremony is nevertheless our most sacred. We do not discuss it lightly, and by definition, even a factual presentation of any portion of the ceremony for the public's review takes the ceremony lightly. I put a lot of thought into my answer because I wish in no way to show disrepect for this ceremony nor to violate its sacred nature. The website may be accurate, but it is still disrespectful.
    – JBH
    Jun 29, 2017 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


Please understand that you are asking questions about a ceremony that is considered the most sacred of our ordinances and that does involve secrecy. Before I give you my answer, please understand that the purpose of the secrecy is not really to hide things others shouldn't know or wouldn't understand. The purpose of the secrecy is to teach us a very valuable lesson in integrity. To make my point: I once asked a friend of mine, a convert to the LDS faith, about the ceremonies of the Masons, of which she was a member. She wouldn't reveal what she had promised to keep secret even though she was no longer a Mason --- she understood the point.

Yes, there were penalties as part of the Endowment Ceremony prior to 1990. No, I will not tell you what they were because I covenanted to keep those things secret (I was endowed in 1984). Penalties were not an uncommon thing in many societal ceremonies of the 1800's as they were a very visceral way of helping generally uneducated people to understand the sobriety of the covenants. There is no specific scripture that teaches the need for the penalties. Indeed, there is no specific scripture that requires the secrets. There is a scripture that teaches why the Church implements procedures that help teach lessons in integrity. D&C 84:54-55:

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

As people became more educated, the need for the penalties diminished, and were finally discontinued. We no longer need such blunt tools to teach a well educated membership a lesson in integrity.

Having said that, I would like to point out that the person who captured the video has failed the test of integrity and didn't understand the point of the secrecy at all. Why should the Lord trust such a person? Why should we? It is also worth pointing out the disrespect shown by those who have promulgated the video. Doesn't the Golden Rule teach that if you want to be treated with respect, you should first show it? Many people interpret our reluctance to discuss our Endowment Ceremony as proof there is some nefarious intent. Nothing could be further from the truth. If we suggest that the covenant of Baptism is made in our spiritual infancy, granting us time to learn how to stand before the Lord with honor, then the Endowment Ceremony serves to make our covenants of obedience in our spiritual maturity. We should not treat that with lightness, but with considerable respect and solemnity before the Lord.

It is my sincere hope that you understand my answer. You've asked a delicate question, but I don't believe you are looking to disparage or mock. And so I've provided what answer I can to respect an honorable query.

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    Someone taught me recently, and I thought it was insightful, that perhaps one of the reasons that we're not to thoughtlessly share everything we learn in the temple is that there are certain things that Heavenly Father wants to teach us himself, in his house. Jun 29, 2017 at 23:20
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    Christian pastors don't reveal confessions. Christian councils often meet without publicizing agendas or meeting minutes. Matt 6:4-6 teaches to pray and be charitable in secret. Secrets abound in Christianity. The issue isn't that something is hidden, but why it is hidden. Nothing about what we keep secret has any value or meaning outside the LDS faith. Our reason is a test of integrity.
    – JBH
    Jun 29, 2017 at 23:24
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    Keeping secrets on an individual basis or about certain cases is a different thing altogether to having secret practices or ceremonies.
    – Nacht
    Jun 30, 2017 at 0:40
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    @Joshua (et al.) comments should be made to clarify facts presented in the answer, not to critique the particular faith traditions being laid out here.
    – Peter Turner
    Jun 30, 2017 at 2:45
  • You guys might want to weigh in on christianity.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6367/…
    – BlackThorn
    Jul 13, 2017 at 15:46

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