Mervin B. Hogan discusses tensions between Utah Masonry and the Mormon Church, noting Utah Masonry's anti-Mormon stance and shared prominent figures.

Mervin B. Hogan

Mervin B. Hogan, The Origin and Growth of Utah Masonry and Its Conflict with Mormonism (Salt Lake City, UT: Campus Graphics, 1978), 114–19

Mervin B. Hogan
David O. McKay, Mervin B. Hogan, George Henry Dern, Samuel H. Goodwin, Lincoln G. Kelly, Judge Drake, J. W. Collins, Monseigneur Dwyer, George A. Smith, Philip H. Emerson, M. Hawley, Jacob S. Boreman, O. F. Strickland
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facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, in this,

The contract referred to, set out in said complaint, is void, on the ground of public policy; hence the cause cannot be maintained, nor the collection of the said note enforced.

O. F. Strickland, in person.

It was published on Wednesday that Judge Strickland authorized a denial; Judge Strickland does not deny the charge that he purchased his judgeship for $2,800, still unpaid; he admits it; he confesses the whole; he does not say he did not give the note; he does not say his signature is a forgery; he does say Judge Drake's letter is false; he admits everything, and pleads that the contract is void 'on the ground of public policy, that the rascality perpetrated by two ex-associate justices of the supreme made in connection with it cannot be enforced, because public policy, the public interest and common justice and honesty forbid it. He does more. He is a lawyer, and knows that by this demurrer he has estopped himself forever from denying the charges; has placed himself on record as a trafficker in judicial positions who refuses to pay the price agreed upon for the judgeship thus obtained, and precludes himself from ever again attempting to deny the fact, after 'authorizing' a flat denial through the public press.

A suggestion of the status attributed to the Utah Masonic Order a century ago is found in the opening lines of a January 1, 1873 editorial, titled "The Mormon Problem," in the Salt Lake Daily Herald, which read:

We commend to the carpet baggers of Utah, and their confederates the G. [rand] L. [odge] [of] U. [tah], the following article on this subject from the Milwaukee Sentinel, a very strong administration paper, ...

The inexorable force of public opinion had closed in on Strickland. In a lengthy article also titled, "The Mormon Problem," the Chicago Tribune of December 30, 1872 stated in part:

Strickland, the pure and immaculate, whose last year's charge to the grand jury was a compound of balderdash, judicial by his swaggery, and ignorance of the law, only equalled by his maudlin order, when presiding over a political meeting at the Walker House, to his minions to shoot down all who dared to come between the wind and his nobility--this man, Strickland, who, it is charged, has divided his time between the tap room, the billiard table and games less respected by law, filling up the intervals with imprecations upon the Mormons and all who did not join in hossanahs to himself and his judgments and decrees; who went to Washington to select his successor and install him in office in the same manner that he, himself, was selected by judge Drake, as his, and on terms equally remunerative--this same Strickland, as we see by the dispatches published here today, is by the equally immaculate Gould, the pious McLeod, and the immortal Baskin, converted into a conservative, dispassionate judge, who favored the views of district attorney Bates, as sustained by the supreme court of the United States in the Engelbrecht case!

What a jumble these strange bed-fellows make of each other!

A box with the heading: "official Directory./United States Officers for Utah:/" was regularly printed on the front page of the Salt Lake Daily Herald. Its Friday, May 16, 1873 listing included: "Associate Justices--0. F. Strickland, Mich., and M. Hawley, 111." The next day the directory had been changed to: "Associate Justices--Philip H. Emerson and Jacob E. Boreman."


The historical record shows that the Roman Catholics, the Anglo-Catholics or Episcopalians, and the Jews have always lived in Utah as good neighbors among themselves and the Mormons. Whenever questions or problems--whatever their nature--have arisen, the interested parties have always reached a satisfactory accord, quietly and privately. Possibly the actual basis of this harmony is the inherent sense of religious assurance and security experienced by each of these groups.

In the frank words of Monseigneur Dwyer, "Far different were the relations between the evangelical sectaries and the Saints." Most of the members of Utah Masonry have always come from the "evangelical sectaries." Their jealous, covetous observation of the Saints' economic progress, their awareness of the Saints' well-grounded sense of belonging, their knowledge of the Saints' deep assurance religiously may have been some of the contributing factors to the psychological disturbances provoking and sustaining the ever-present emotional unrest of the "evangelical sectaries."

Utah Masonry has been the one ever-crying voice in the State, throughout the past century, always castigating, always striving to antagonize the Mormon Church and the individual Mormon. Utah Masonry has insistently played the part of an unfriendly, annoying neighbor striving zealously at all times to be as obnoxious as possible.

My close association with Utah Masonry began in the mid-1920s. The highly gifted and independently wealthy leader of Utah Masonry, James William Collins, 33°, made it possible for me to enjoy a rather close and cherished personal relationship with him. I have known only a mere handful of men in my lifetime who have commanded the esteem, admiration, and affection I held for this accomplished Mason at the time of his death, and ever since. Brother Collins was wholly free of any religious bigotry, hateful animosity, or intolerance. He was truly an exemplary universal Freemason. He privately discussed with me his views of the relationship between Utah Masonry and the Mormon Church on several occasions.

Brother Collins was deeply disturbed and chagrined that S. H. Goodwin had engineered the adoption of the anti-Mormon Resolution during his term as Grand Master. He stated he had been unduly persuaded and influenced and unwisely misled by Goodwin when, in retrospect, he would have done much better to have given more attention to G. H. Dern. He stated unequivocally that the adoption in 1925 by the Utah Grand Lodge of the anti-Mormon Resolution had been a "terrible, unfortunate mistake."

It was a source of pleasure to Brother Collins, he told me, that he had enjoyed for a number of years a most warm friendship with President George Albert Smith of the Mormon Church. The personal, cordial relationship between himself and Mormon President David O. McKay, he stated was based on a mutual understanding of many years duration. The depth and sincerity of their mutual regard for each other, in both instances, was always expressed naturally in public as well as in private. Both Mormons and Masons who were in the least interested--particularly in downtown Salt Lake City--knew of the open, acknowledged, and functional friendship of J. W. Collins with each of the two succeeding Mormon presidents.

On several occasions Brother Collins mentioned to me that S. H. Goodwin and other emotionally prejudiced Utah Masons criticized him behind his back for his openly displayed, freely acknowledged, cooperative friendly understanding with Mormon leaders. He further stated that these critical brother Masons unhesitatingly attributed his friendliness with the Mormons to the ulterior motive of seeking business for his bank. The whole situation perturbed him deeply and genuinely.

In my opinion, the successor to J. W. Collins, namely, Lincoln G. Kelly, 33°, never enjoyed the same degree of established, recognized, personal Masonic authority or influence as that exercised by Brother Collins. This was clearly due to a number of factors that will not be introduced here. Nor has either of the two successive leaders who followed Lincoln in any sense displayed the authority or stature of leadership exemplified by Brother Collins.

I have viewed and studied the atmosphere pervading Utah Masonry for more than a half century. This leads me to conclude that un-Masonic anti-Mormon bigotry has grown slightly in intensity but diminished considerably in extent. A relatively small group and percentage of insidious, covert Mormon haters have slowly, but firmly, gained administrative control of the Masonic institution in Utah. This is now detrimental to so-called Utah Masonry for several reasons:

a. Each American jurisdiction is critical of the un-Masonic anti- Mormon methodology practised zealously by Utah Masonry.

b. International Freemasonry concedes no justification for the emotional, baseless insistence of this practice by Utah Masonry.

c. Intelligent, informed, thinking men in Utah decline to seek membership in an un-Masonic hate-institution.

d. Sojourning Masons in Utah from 1866 to date have refused to affiliate with Utah Masonry because it is un-Masonic and viewed questionably by a large bloc of the Utah public.

e. Utah Masonry has pronounced membership problems, many of them injudiciously self-inflicted.

f. The preclusion of young, nominal Mormon males from seeking membership in Utah Masonry robs it of seriously needed vital new blood.

Utah Masonry has erected repelling walls of pronounced bigotry which are effectively isolating it from the world's universal Freemasonry. Within the State particularly, Utah Masonry is known, and always has been known as an institution which does not practice what it teaches.

College of Engineering

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah 84112

June 4, 1977.

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