You’ve probably heard lots of ghost stories, Ouija boards, and other supernatural phenomenon. I was surprised to hear Dr. Richard Bennett, a BYU professor of Church History tell us that Spiritualism, the idea of communing with the dead, may have had some impact on the LDS endowment. Some quotes from Dr. Bennett:
Spiritualism, the practice of communing with the dead, adulterated today by Ouija boards and things like this and telekinesis and paranormal, but Spiritualism is well-known in American history as flowering after the Civil War with so many dead and lost and the great desire of many families to know what happened to their sons or their fathers or their brothers.
In the 1870s there’s a lot of comment by general authorities, leaders of the church, particularly Orson Pratt about this is a counterfeit, but it has its place. We understand why people are seeking the dead. Was that a factor in the beginning of endowments for the dead for the church in 1877? I claim that it may have been one of the factors to begin to address how we really think about them. There is redemption for the dead but it’s not that way. So was it a factor? I argue that it probably was one of the factors.
There were a small number of astute, intellectual Latter-day Saints who broke with Brigham Young in the 1870s, who thought they knew the gospel a little bit better than Brigham Young did. But they thought that they knew economics better than Brigham Young did and they broke with the church over that. The Salt Lake Tribune starts with the Godbeite movement which was very negative,of course against the church. It still tends to be a little bit on that side, but that’s its history.
There’s also a discussion about the revelation that preceded the Manifesto. Check it out!