Were Ellen White and the Adventist Pioneers Freemasons?

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Were Ellen White and the Pioneers Freemasons?
by Marcos C. Thaler and Edwin M. Cotto


Ellen White and the early pioneers of the Adventist Church were members of Freemasonry!


     The charge is unfounded for numerous reasons. First of all, Ellen White herself condemned all kinds of secret societies. After quoting Paul who said “be ye not equally yoked,” she said, “There are those who question whether it is right for Christians to belong to the Freemasons and other secret societies. Let all such consider the scriptures just quoted. If we are Christians at all, we must be Christians everywhere, and must consider and heed the counsel given to make us Christians according to the standard of God’s Word…” She also said that those who are under the banner of the Lord “cannot be united with the Freemasons or with any secret organization.” The very pioneers she worked with opened condemned Freemasonry. Uriah Smith spoke out against it, Joseph Bates admitted he had nothing to do with it, and E.J. Waggoner classed it as another form of Spiritualism alongside White and Black Magic, Necromancy, Divination, Astrology, and Witchcraft! Moreover, the whole church got together at one point in a general conference and condemned all forms of secret societies! If she was a Freemason, surely these people would have condemned her for it, or we would have some writings from them saying she was. But no such evidence exists!
    In their determined effort to spread this falsehood, the critics will make unsound arguments in order to level this accusation against her. They point to a few statements where she uses in her writings the phrase “all-seeing eye.” But if I write a letter talking about God and mention His all-seeing eye, I am supposed to be a Freemason now? Are the characters of the Bible Freemasons, because they too spoke of God’s Eye as all-seeing? David said, “the EYE of the LORD is UPON THEM that fear him” (Ps. 33:18). Job said, “For his EYES are upon the ways of man, and he SEETH ALL his goings… but now mine EYE SEETH THEE.” (Job 42:5, 34:21) and Zechariah 2:8 says that God keeps his people “as the apple OF HIS EYE.” (Zech. 2:8).” By the standard of the critics, all these prophets were members of some secret society!
    It is true that her tombstone is an Obelisk, but The Association of Gravestone Studies says that the Obelisk formed NO PART with Freemasonry in regards to Tombstones. Moreover, Masons directly tell us that members’ tombstones usually contain emblems of Freemasonry, which incidentally are missing her from tombstone! Obelisks were simply a relic of the Victorian Age. Such tombstones were popular, stylish and cheap. It would be absurd to assume that every grave that has an Obelisk contained a deceased member of Freemasonry!


     The following paper is written to expose the ludicrous and nefarious charges against Ellen White and Seventh-day Adventism that Freemasonry was a part of its beginnings. In fact, it will be demonstrated that everything to do with the foundations of Seventh-day Adventism is just the exact opposite. The very nemesis of Freemasonry.

     What can be better than going to the horses’ mouths? Let’s start with what Ellen White herself had to say concerning Secret Societies and Freemasonry:

Ellen White on Secret Societies and Freemasonry

The Perils of the Secret Societies.–“The Lord’s injunction, ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,’ refers not only to the marriage of Christians with the ungodly, but to all alliances in which the parties are brought into intimate association, and in which there is need of harmony in spirit and actionThe Lord declares through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.’ Isaiah 8:9-13.

There are those who question whether it is right for Christians to belong to the Freemasons and other secret societies. Let all such consider the scriptures just quoted. If we are Christians at all, we must be Christians everywhere, and must consider and heed the counsel given to make us Christians according to the standard of God’s Word…” (1)

     She states elsewhere:

“Those who stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Immanuel cannot be united with the Freemasons or with any secret organization. The seal of the living God will not be placed upon anyone who maintains such a connection after the light of truth has shone upon his pathway. Christ is not divided, and Christians cannot serve God and mammon. The Lord says, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, . . . and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and My daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”(2)

     And continuing:

“Deceptions Through Secret Societies.–“The world is a theater; the actors, its inhabitants, are preparing to act their part in the last great drama. With the great masses of mankind, there is no unity, except as men confederate to accomplish their selfish purposes. God is looking on. His purposes in regard to His rebellious subjects will be fulfilled. The world has not been given into the hands of men, though God is permitting the elements of confusion and disorder to bear sway for a season. A power from beneath is working to bring about the last great scenes in the drama,–Satan coming as Christ, and working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who are binding themselves together in secret societies. Those who are yielding to the passion for confederation are working out the plans of the enemy. The cause will be followed by the effect. Transgression has almost reached its limit. Confusion fills the world, and a great terror is soon to come upon human beings. The end is very near. We who know the truth should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise.”(3)

     In another occasion, Ellen White entreated hard with a brother to leave the lodge and give himself fully to the Lord when suddenly, unbeknownst to her, she made a secret Masonic hand gesture known only to Masons. To the brother, this served as proof that she was inspired by God, because he knew for sure that she was not a Mason herself!

“I repeated to him the words spoken by my guide in reference to these associations. Giving a certain movement that was made by my guide, I said, ‘I cannot relate all that was given to me.’ Brother Faulkhead told Elder Daniells and others that I gave the particular sign known only by the highest order of Masons, which he had just entered. He said that I did not know the sign, and that I was not aware that I was giving the sign to him. This was special evidence to him that the Lord was working through me to save his soul.”(4)

     As a result of this, the man left the lodge. Such fruit would not have transpired had Ellen White not been of God.

     So what have some of the other SDA Pioneers stated concerning Freemasonry and Secret Societies? Let’s take a look:


     Before we go further, we should start with William Miller.  After all, he was the one that got the ball rolling concerning the soon coming of Christ and the return of our Lord at the terminus of the 2300 year prophecy found in Daniel 8:14. So the question is asked, was William Miller a Freemason? The answer would be yes, but before he was converted. The fact is, William Miller left the lodge and gave up every shred of Freemasonry after he began to study the Bible. He resigned his Masonic membership in 1831, stating that he did so to “avoid fellowship with any practice that may be incompatible with the word of God among masons.”(5) By 1833 he wrote in a letter to his friends to treat Freemasonry “as they would any other evil.(6)


    In 1857, Uriah Smith stated the following:

“One willfully believes in just such a God as he forms in his imagination and as pleases his own depraved heart. Another willfully adheres to a religion consisting in a loose set of morals, no more strict than to accord with his own loose conduct. Another willfully sustains a religion that saves all, let their characters be ever so bad. Another willfully sustains the pantomime of puseyistic folly as his religion. Another willfully cleaves to free-masonry in more or less of its various formalities as his religion. Another willfully cleaves to all the items, right or wrong, of his sect, for the sake of sustaining the sect. Another as slave to the principle, that he must abide in the sect where he was bred, and it is shameful to assume that children can ever know more than parents. He therefore willfully adheres to the religion in which he was bred, for the sake of his reputation with associates, who annoy him with that principle.”(7)

     As we can see, Uriah Smith was completely opposed to any form of freemasonry.


    In 1859, J. H. Waggoner stated this:

The boasted universality of masonry makes it necessary to exclude the name of Christ from prayers, otherwise they would be fitted only for a class, and hence be local and not general. He who joins in a prayer where the name of Christ is intentionally omitted to gratify another who denies Christ, certainly compromises his christianity, and “has denied the faith.” This should lead every Christian to avoid such a connection.”(8)

     Obviously, this Adventist pioneer believed that to be a Mason meant to reject the Lord. His Son believed the same thing:


    In 1894, this highly respected expositor wrote in the negative regarding Freemasonry:

“A new Spiritualist journal called The Unknown World, has just made its appearance. In order that our readers may know from its adherents just what Spiritualism embraces, we make the following extract from the prospectus of the journal, most of the words of which we think they will be able to comprehend:-‘The department of occult science embraced by the present editorial scheme are: White and Black Magic, Necromancy, Divination, Astrology, Alchemy, Witchcraft, Crystallomancy, Elementals and Elementaries, the Rosicrucians, the Illuminati, Esoteric, Freemasonry, the Mysteries, the Mystics, Hermetic Philosophy, the Archaeology of the Secret Sciences.’ We do not know if the above is the whole of the Spiritualist family, but it is sufficiently large.”(9)


Joseph Bates, a cofounder of the SDA Church, confesses he knew nothing of Masonry. In a letter to James White, he was discussing a problem over how certain meetings needed to be conducted in a church. Notice what he stated:

“The church then proceeded to transact their business. But did not come to a decision until the morning. If this was a secret meeting, then all church meetings are such. Mr. H. says that one of ‘our number told him that it was too much like masonry.’ As I never was acquainted with masonry I am unable to make the comparison, but this I will venture to say, that not one of the members who labored to have things made right during that church meeting, ever made such a remark to Mr. H.”(10)


    On August 9, 1864, at a meeting at Battle Creek, MI, it was affirmed once again that Secret Societies or Freemasonry of any kind were incompatible with the Christian faith, and that we are to have NO association with them whatsoever. The Conclusion of that Meeting concerning Secret Societies is as follows:

“Such to us are secret societies. The only safe position we see to avoid this net of Satan, is to flee from the first step in that direction, enter not the first of these secret associations, lest you sin against God and are drawn deeper and deeper into the allurements and follies of the world. We would say in conclusion that we have consulted with many of the ministers and leading brethren of Seventh-day Adventists, and the view of secret societies herein advanced, so far as we can learn, is that invariably entertained by them.”(11)

     Several more periodicals can be produced which practically state the same thing following the 1860s.  In 1866 another conference was held, and Uriah Smith who edited the discussions of those meetings wrote a lengthy documentation in 1866 entitled, “Shall Christians Join Secret Societies?” The lengthy document concluded the following 9 points. Each point is greatly expanded upon in the original document, but for the sake of brevity, I shall only quote the heading of each:

  1. “First. Christ, our Master, neither instituted nor countenanced these Orders.
  2. Secondly. In those rites, proceedings, and regalia which do appear, these Orders are frivolous, belittling, and unworthy of respect.
  3. Thirdly. These Orders stand convicted of deceit and falsehood.
  4. Fourthly. These Orders are unfriendly to domestic happiness and well-being.
  5. Fifthly. These Orders are hostile to the heavenly mindedness, to the spirituality of those who join them.
  6. Sixthly. These Orders tend to destroy Christian fellowship.
  7. Seventhly. These Orders tend to subject the Church to “the world” in some of its dearest interests
  8. Eighthly. These Orders dishonor Christ.
  9. Ninthly. These Orders-the things note alleged against them being true-impede the cause and kingdom of God, and are, therefore, hostile to the largest, best, and deepest interests of mankind.”(12)

     The above statement led to the following conclusion:

“Shall Christians join secret societies? Will it pay? Are they under obligation to do so? Is it right? Fellow-disciple, brother man, have you doubt on these questions? If it will not pay; if you are under no obligation to do it; if you have any doubt of its rightfulness, it is most assuredly your duty to refuse any connection with them.”(13)


    But didn’t Ellen White make some statements using the phrase “all-seeing eye?” Isn’t this proof that she had connections with Freemasonry? Let me get this straight. If I write a letter talking about God and mention His all-seeing eye, I am supposed to be a Freemason now? What an unfounded, nonsensical, irrational charge! How about these critics furnish real evidence that Ellen White was a Freemason. Is there some kind of proof they can show us? We have statements from her very pen condemning it. Her associates also condemned it and would have exposed her had she had any positive association with secret societies. And will they now point to a few random quotes to now conclude the very opposite?
    We can put this fallacious argument to the test by simply showing a few selected verses from the Bible:

“The Light of the body is THE EYE. If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22)

“Behold, the EYE of the LORD is UPON THEM that fear him” (Ps. 33:18)

“For his EYES are upon the ways of man, and he SEETH ALL his goings.” (Job 34:21)

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: HIS EYES BEHOLD, his EYELIDS try, the CHILDREN OF MEN. “ (Psalms 11:4)

“He led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple OF HIS EYE.” (Zech. 2:8)

“But now mine EYE SEETH THEE.” (Job 42:5)

“But the EYE OF THEIR GOD was upon the elders of the Jews.” (Ezra 5:5)

“THE EYES of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“Behold, THE EYE of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.” (Psalm 33:18)

“For THE EYES of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth…” (2 Chron. 16:9)

“For the ways of man are before THE EYES of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.” (Proverbs. 5:21)

“For MINE EYES are upon all their ways…” (Jer. 16:17)

“For the EYES OF THE LORD ARE OVER THE RIGHTEOUS, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:2)

“These things saith the Son of God, who hath HIS EYES like unto a flame of fire.” (Revelation 2:18)

     By the standard of the critics, Matthew, David, Job, Ezra, Zechariah, Solomon, Hanani the Prophet, Jeremiah Peter and John were all Freemasons!
    Saying that one cannot use the phrase “all seeing eye” because it is used in pagan symbols is just as ludicrous as saying one cannot use the rainbow because it was hijacked by the LGBT movement. The whole reason Lucifer borrowed the “all-seeing eye” in the first place, is because He was trying to be “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14), because He wanted to see “all things” like God could.


    Critics want to make a big deal about the tombstone placed over her grave but it does not occur to them that a dead person cannot choose which tombstone to use. But even if she or her family did choose it, that still would not prove she was a Freemason. According to The Association of Gravestone Studies, the Obelisk formed NO PART with Freemasonry in regards to Tombstones:

“The obelisk is, to quote McDowell and Meyer in The Revival Styles in American Memorial Art, one of the ‘most pervasive of all the revival forms’ of cemetery art.  There is hardly a cemetery founded in the 1840s and 50s without some form of Egyptian influence in the public buildings, gates, tomb art, etc. Napoleon’s 1798-99 Egyptian campaigns, the discoveries at the tombs of the Pharaohs, and our new Republic’s need to borrow the best of the ancient cultures (Greek revival, classic revival, the prominence of classical studies and dress, etc.) led to a resurgence of interest in the ancient Egyptian culture.  Obelisks were considered to be tasteful, with pure uplifting lines, associated with ancient greatness, patriotic, able to be used in relatively small spaces, and, perhaps most importantly, obelisks were less costly than large and elaborate sculpted monuments. There were many cultural reasons for the revival styles of the nineteenth century. Freemasonry, while part of the overall cultural influence, was not responsible for the prevalence of obelisks.  If you would like to read more about some of these styles, see The Egyptian Revival:  Its Sources, Monuments and Meaning, 1808-1859, by Richard Carrott.”(14) 

     Moreover, the quote states that the Obelisk was a “fad” of the times, and was cheap. No one knows for sure why the Obelisk was chosen for Ellen White’s gravesite, but the fact remains that nearly every graveyard contained Obelisks and it would be absurd to say that every individual buried was a Freemason.
    Additionally, a stroll through any old graveyard reveals that when a Freemason wanted his tombstone to indicate that he was a part of the fraternity, his tombstone would generally contain imprints of Freemason symbols, such as this one:

Click Here to see more images such as this one.

    The website masoninfo.com explains that Masons would have this arranged because they felt strongly about their membership into the society. Take a good look at Ellen’s tombstone. There are no Masonic symbols! Apparently, Ellen and the pioneers were not very proud of their supposed memberships because these emblems are not on their tombstones!
    Masons roll their eyes and giggle at the conspiracy-driven fanatical claims of religionists who assert some type of connection between Freemasonry and Egyptian worship. We do the same when we see these critics do the same with Ellen White. We knew from a biblical perspective that the Devil is certainly behind all these forms of secret societies, but trying to “connect the dots” with weak arguments to accuse people of something is just wild speculation unless some hard evidence can be furnished. Critics who make these negative claims about Ellen White being a Freemason need to either prove their case beyond question or be quiet.(15)


     As we have seen, Seventh-day Adventism embodies the epitome of an anti-Freemasonry movement. I implore the reader to do their due diligence and research these matters out more thoroughly before swallowing what all the critics have to say on the internet. Also, watch the videos that have been made that expose the foolish notion Ellen White or the Adventist Pioneers had ANY connections or affiliations with Freemasonry whatsoever. Additionally, Jud Lake has some great information about this as well.
    It is with deep regret that I say, that those who have laid such false charges against Seventh-day Adventism’s foundations, and who have created unsubstantiated claims in videos and internet articles, I can assure are nothing but the servants of Hermeticism (the symbol of a serpent, the Devil) trying to distract you from the real issues. The real issue is that Adventism and all its pioneers were the NEMESES to Freemasonry! The number one champions AGAINST it. No other body exposes it as much as it exposes the Papacy and its true agenda. In order for Adventism’s enemies to have a chance at bucking Adventism, they are forced to adopt a new ploy of Devilry. That is, to try and turn the argument back against Adventism and accuse them of being part of the very system it exposes! Satan is truly running out of options, so we see. He is more desperate than we can imagine.
    I’ll tell you the unreserved straight truth. The critics are dead-wrong about Ellen White, or any of our pioneers being Freemasons after their conversion. It was actually some of the pioneer’s past affiliations with these societies that armed and enabled them with the ability and credibility to expose it. Satan has many wrapped about his little finger, dismantling their ability to view issues in their proper lenses. He enjoys distorting issues in our minds. But it is our earnest plea to those who have fabricated such charges to humble themselves before God and be willing to give up these idols in their life that they have been cherishing, and be willing to accept correction and be hewed and squared by the evidence before it is too late. “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”


1) Ellen Gould White, Evangelism p. 618.
2) Ibid, p. 622.1 (Letter 21, 1893)
3) Ibid, pp. 622-623.1 (Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 27-28. (1904)
4) Letter 46, 1892. (Selected Messages, v. 3, page 85.5)
5) William Miller letter dated September 10, 1831 quoted in David L. Rowe, God’s Strange Work: William Miller and the End of the World (Eerdmans: 2008), p. 94.
6)  William Miller letter dated April 10, 1833, also quoted in David L. Row, God’s Strange Work: William Miller and the End of the World (Eerdmans: 2008), p. 94.
7) December 3, 1857, UrSe, ARSH 27.10.
8)  J. H. W., September 15, 1859 UrSe, ARSH, p. 132.14.
9) The Present Truth, September 6, 1894 EJW, (PTUK), p. 562.3.
10) July 4, 1854, Bates, The Adventist Review and Sabbath Herald, p. 175.14.
11)  John. Byington, J. N. Loughborough, Geo. W. Amadon. General Conference Committee, August 9, 1864, UrSe, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, p. 87.19.
12) May 8, 1866 UrSe, ARSH, p. 178.4.
13) Ibid, p. 178, paragraph 6.
14) See: https://www.gravestonestudies.org/knowledge-center/symbolism#faqnoanchor 15) An additional point is that the Masons have not, and still do not, accept women as Masons. Though there are certain masonic movements involving women, they are generally not allowed to be authentic members. See this link for more details: http://www.masonicinfo.com/women.htm


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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