d) The rules changed in 1723, primarily due to problems with the Catholic church. In 1723, the "Old Charges" went into effect, which are detailed below. Contrary to popular belief, prior to 1723, Masonry was almost exclusively Christian (Catholic).

(I copied this directly from a website which answers these questions in great detail. I have included a few paragraphs from this site that pertain to this topic).

As might be supposed, during this entire period the Craft was strongly Catholic. This position softened somewhat, however, following the Protestant Reformation. Masonry required its members to adhere and support the "religion of the country in which they were living and working." It was still strongly Christian, "aggressively" Christian has been one description, but no longer exclusively Catholic.

This orientation persisted until about 1600 A.D., at which time a new view came to be held; a view which required only a belief in a Supreme Being, leaving the name of this Being and the manner of worship solely to the conscience of the individual.[2] This, the present view, was later formalized (1723) in the so-called Old Charges, one of the foundation stones upon which modern Freemasonry rests. The first of the Old Charges reads (with the spelling modernized):

"A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid athiest, nor an irreligious liber tine. But though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be good men and true, or men of honor and honesty, by whatever denominations or persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the center of union and the means of concili ating true friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance."

To visit the web site that has more info in detail on Christianity, Catholicism, Politics, and Freemasonry, please click:
The Miter and the Trowel

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