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The Sacred, the "Secret," and the Sinister in the Latter-day Saint Tradition

TitleThe Sacred, the "Secret," and the Sinister in the Latter-day Saint Tradition
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBlythe, Christopher James
EditorUrban, Hugh N., and Paul Christophe Johnson
Book TitleThe Routledge Handbook of Religion and Secrecy
CityNew York, NY
KeywordsTemple Endowment; Temple Worship

Many Latter-day Saints would be uncomfortable with the presence of an essay on their tradition in a book on religion and secrecy. While I suspect the vast majority of my co-religionists would be fine with the sort of study I present here, they would likely not be startled but annoyed at the word “secrecy” used to describe their religious practice. Latter-day Saints are well aware of the potentially negative connotations of a “secret” and instead describe those rituals, teachings, and experiences that should only be shared with the utmost care and only in the right contexts as sacred. In contrast to a “secret” where the goal is to conceal it from others, Latter-day Saints reason that they want to share the sacred with all but must only do so when individuals are properly prepared to understand sacred things. In this chapter, I look at how the “sacred” has been discussed and implemented in regards to Latter-day Saint ritual, how esotericism defines interactions with outsiders, and informs Latter-day Saint identity and practice.