UPDATE: See my followup post here.
I came across a link today — with the words “Mitt Romney actually believes this!” — for a YouTube video entitled “Behind the Veil: Never-Before-Seen Videos of Secret Mormon Temple Rituals.” Since this was framed by the linker as an attack on Romney, I watched the video. As a scholar of religion, I found it fascinating. As a person of faith, I found it morally objectionable that these sacred ceremonies were surreptitiously recorded and broadcast and mocked.
Sometimes I choose not to write about certain things because I don’t want to bring them more attention. In this case, the video is going viral, having reached half a million views. Richard Dawkins linked his followers to it. I suspect this story will only grow. So I sought out the filmmaker. I’ve always believed in the intelligence and good will of my readership. I’ve not been afraid for them to hear from atheists or Neo-Pagans, trusting that they have the discernment to make their own judgments. So I’m trusting my readers to be discerning here, as I let Noah speak for himself and tell us why he made the videos.
Tomorrow I will publish my own opinion on these films, and why I think they transgress important moral boundaries. But today I’m just going to publish an interview with the maker of the film. By his own account, “Noah” lives near Salt Lake City. He would prefer to remain anonymous (“Noah” is the new name that was given to him in a temple ceremony) because, he says, “these videos are not about me. They aren’t even about Mitt Romney. They are simply accurate visual aids that I have made available to anyone that wishes to investigate Mormonism that wants to know what the Mormon missionaries refuse to tell them.” Noah declined to say what he did for a living, but said he was open to answering any other questions. I sent him a set of questions, and present them (very slightly edited for length and flow) here. I underlined an important part:
Are you surprised by the response you’re seeing? The video is going viral in the midst of the campaign season. Campaigns are always worried about an “October Surprise.” Are there more videos to come?
I’m surprised that MOST major media seems to be afraid of openly and honestly discussing Mormonism. They attacked President Obama for remarks made by Rev. Wright, probably because they knew that Wright’s comments were inflammatory and unlikely to accurately reflect the personal beliefs and opinions of President Obama. However, Mitt Romney really does participate in and believe the cult-like Mormon temple rituals. I have PERSONALLY seen Mitt Romney raise his arm to the square and swear to consecrate everything he has or ever will have to the Mormon church and for “…the establishment of Zion on earth.” Anyone who knew what that actually meant would likely NEVER put a Mormon in the White House. It is nothing short of a worldwide theocracy headed by the Mormon Church. I have Mitt Romney on video in full color participating in these Freemason inspired, occult like rituals and I may very well have an “October Surprise” of my own.
I haven’t posted all of my footage and there are still secret temple ceremonies that have yet to be exposed. They will be exposed soon.
What’s your motivation in recording and posting these secret rituals?
I was born and raised in the Mormon church. My motivation is education. I was gobsmacked in 1987 when, at the age of 19, I went through the Mormon temple for the first time. It was NOTHING like what I had grown up with and it was VERY frightening. Back then we had to pantomime our own murders in several ways as we swore to “never reveal” the details of the temple. I watched as my own mother pantomimed slitting her own throat and acted out the motion of disemboweling herself. This is “the only true church of God on earth”? Pardon me for saying so, but if that’s true, God is a real nut job.
What’s your backstory?
I was born in the 1960′s, baptized in the 1970′s, served a full-time mission in the 1980′s and was a paid employee of the Mormon Church (ironically in the Security Department) for a period of time in the 1990′s. I discovered it wasn’t true in the Fall of 2001 and resigned my membership in 2002. I knew when I resigned that one day I would get the temple rituals on video so others would have more information before being gobsmacked themselves. About 6 years ago I started the ball rolling that would eventually roll into a perfect strike against the cult of Mormonism. The pen is mightier than the sword but the hidden camera trumps all.
It will not escape anyone’s attention that these were posted shortly before the final presidential debate, and just as some of the early voting polls are open. Are you allied with any political group, or receiving funds or encouragement from any political group?
I voted for Independents (Ross Perot in 1992), Republicans (Bush/Quayle in 1988 and Bush/Cheney in 2000) and Democrats (Kerry/Edwards in 2004 and Obama/Biden in 2008). I WISH I had some organized groups helping me financially. I’ll be lucky if I ever break even on this project, let alone MAKE money. I have heard NOTHING from any organized political groups. Heck, I can’t even get Roseanne Barr to return my Tweets.
The text in the video cites Romney’s great-grandfather and his multiple wives. Are you out to embarrass Mitt Romney or undermine his candidacy?
I would love to embarrass Romney. His promise to obey the Mormon “Law of Consecration” disqualifies him for the White House, in my opinion.
Do you belong to another religious tradition now?
I do not belong to any organized religion. I generally don’t discuss my religious beliefs but I will say that I do not identify myself as atheist or agnostic.
Many people would challenge the morality of recording these videos without permission, publishing them without permission, and mocking a faith community’s sacred ceremonies. How do you feel about that? You do appeal for money on your Facebook page. Do you have a financial interest here in sensationalizing the Mormon secrets?
It’s unlikely I’ll ever break even, let alone MAKE money. Information should be free. I am simply providing information. My wife would be elated if it didn’t cost ME hundreds of dollars to do so. As for my project being some sort of moral travesty, I would ask if it is “moral” to blindside teenage boys and girls with oaths to consecrate 100% of their “time and talents” and everything they have or ever will have to ANY organization without some sort of advance warning. Mormons have “Temple preparation” classes that teach you virtually NOTHING about the rituals and oaths you are asked to submit to in the temple.
The Mormon Church lost their right to question the morality of others when they intervened in the Prop 8 fiasco in California. Why didn’t their “Prophet” see in advance that the millions of dollars spent by the Mormon faithful would be a waste because the whole horrible law would be shut down by the courts eventually. Imagine all the good the Mormon church could have done with the nearly FIVE BILLION DOLLARS they recently spent on a shopping mall/condo complex in downtown Salt Lake City. What I did was no different than an undercover cop infiltrating organized crime.
I infiltrated and all I did was report my finding. In color. On YouTube.
Some of the text seems spun pretty hard against Mormons. You say, for instance, that the tradition of secrecy comes from the days of polygamy, when Mormons had to keep secret their illegal polygamous marriages. But many religious traditions have secrets. It seemed to me like a gratuitous way of bringing polygamy into the conversation. Are you out to educate and inform, or out to convince people to share your disdain for Mormonism?
I am out to educate. The disdain for Mormonism typically follows naturally.
Baptism for the dead, as I understand it, is performed as a means of making salvation available to those who died without having an opportunity to respond to the full truth. From the Mormon perspective, then, it’s an act of compassion. Yet you emphasize that they do this without the permission of the families of the deceased, and you seem to imply that there’s something spooky or nefarious about this. What are your views?
Mormons have complete disdain for the beliefs of others. The Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price (two of the four recognized cannon of scripture in Mormonism) refer to ALL non-Mormon faiths collectively as “The church of the devil” and a “great and abominable whore of the earth” and ALL other religious leaders are “corrupt.” Until 1990 the Mormon temple endowment ceremony included a Protestant minister, complete with clergy collar, depicted as a hireling of Satan. It is official Mormon doctrine that ONLY those who accept Mormon teachings in their entirety will go to the Celestial Kingdom to live with God. (“God” being the polygamist exalted man-god known as Elohim. He lives near “Kolob,” which has been referred to as both a star and as a planet.)
Note: Come back tomorrow — please subscribe via RSS, Facebook or Twitter — to hear my own thoughts. I told Noah from the start that I had serious ethical misgivings with his actions, but I appreciate that he took the time to respond to my questions and tell us more about his background and motives.
UPDATE: See my followup post here.