Carole Mikita reporting
With the success of the film version of 'The Da Vinci Code', many wonder what's next from author Dan Brown.
Freemasonry, the oldest and largest charitable fraternity in the world, is his focus. Dan Brown saw the Salt Lake Masonic Temple building when he first came to Utah two years ago.
Since there are Masonic Temples in many countries around the world, what's the Utah connection, you ask? Well, Dan Brown also went to Temple Square and noticed the similarity of the symbols on the Salt Lake Temple.
Tens of millions of readers simply could not stop turning the pages of 'The Da Vinci Code'...
Dan Brown has already written Professor Robert Langdon's next adventure. Murder, intrigue and conspiracy take him to Washington, D.C. in search of clues and connections to the Freemasons.
Legend says the fraternal organization had ancient beginnings, back to the masons who built King Solomon's Temple. They adopted a series of secret signals to identify one another for protection.
Ridgely Gilmore, Masonic Grand Master 2005: "Every lodge room, such as the one we're sitting in, is called a representation of King Solomon's Temple... And so, we operate in that structure...is it real? Um, I would let historians argue about that..."
Masonry came to America with the Founding Fathers.
The plot of Brown's new book, "The Solomon Key" apparently involves the murders of current political leaders by a man connected to the Freemasons.
The book deals heavily with Masonic symbols. The 'G' represents God and geometry. The square and the compass represent truths.
Similar symbols adorn the Salt Lake Temple. Two years ago, Dan Brown toured Temple Square and recognized them.
Aaron Wilhelm, Dan Brown's host 2004: "He was, of course, very interested in the symbology on the Mormon temple...he was interested in the pentacles and the suns and the moons and the stars and all that. So, I gather his primary interest was to sort of see the Mormon embellishment of masonry as it exists, in his mind, of course..."
What's the similarity? How will the Mormon and mason connection play out in the new novel? Should latter-day saints be worried the book could intrude on the sanctity of temple ceremonies..."
Professor Don Cannon says the first five presidents of The LDS Church were Masons, beginning with Joseph Smith in Nauvoo.
Donald Q. Cannon, Ph.D., BYU Church History & Doctrine: "There are so many symbols that are very similar...even the external symbols like the all-seeing eye, for example... The beehive for another."
As Joseph Smith was being shot to death in Carthage Jail, he sent a Masonic signal to his attackers.
Don Cannon" 'Oh, Lord, my God... Is there no help for the widow's son? That's the Masonic distress signal he knew that some of the people, possibly in that hostile group were Masons..."
Controversy has swirled for decades. For years, Masons refused to admit Mormons. But in two years, Glen Cook, a Latter-day Saint, will become Utah's first Masonic Grand Master.
Dan Brown, no doubt, has found fascinating examples of Masonic symbolism laced with early Mormon history. He returned to Salt Lake City this year and church leaders allowed him access to the historic archives.
BYU Professor Robert Millet explains the connection this way: "It seems to be the case, after the Prophet Joseph had been inducted into Masonry that he sensed elements of truth, pieces of antiquity within the Masonic ceremony and then inquired of God."
How will Mormons play in the new novel? All we have now, like Professor Langdon, are a collection of unconnected symbols, as clues...
Aaron Wilhelm: "I'm sure that no matter what he writes...someone's going to take it as negative...I think he sort of enjoys that..."
The title may or may not be 'The Solomon Key' but we understand the book, originally slated for this year, will be released in 2007.