Perhaps the best answer is that most of us are, at least in
the United States. The ranks of Masonry have been and are distinguished by many
of the outstanding religious leaders of America. A quick scan throught the book
"10,000 Famous Freemasons", gives us these names from history, among many
- Rev. Charles T. Aikens, who served as President of the
Lutheran Synod of Eastern Pennsylvania.
- Bishop James Freeman, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington
D.C., who first conceived and began the construction of the National
- Bishop William F. Anderson, one of the most important
leaders of the Methodist Church.
- Rev. Lansing Burrows, Civil War Hero and Secretary of the
Southern Baptist Convention.
- Rev. James C. Baker, who created the Wesley
- William R. White, 33rd degree, who served as President of
Baylor, and secretary of the Sunday School Board, Southern Baptist
- Rev. Hugh I. Evans, who served as national head of the
It is useful on this question, to let some of America's most
honored Clergy speak for themselves.
Carl J. Sanders, Bishop of the United Methodist Church and
holder of the highest honor conferred by the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry,
writes: "My Masonic activities have never interfered with my loyalty to and my
love for my Church. Quite to the contrary, my loyalty to my Church has been
strengthened by my Masonic ties. Good Masons are good Churchmen."
Dr. James P. Wesberry, Executive Director and Editor of the
Baptist publication "Sunday" writes: "It is no secret that Masons love and
revere the Bible nor is it a secret that Masonry helped to preserve it in the
darkest age of the Church when infidelity sought to destroy it. The Bible meets
Masons with its sacred message at every step of progress in its various
The Reverend Louis Gant, 33rd degree, Mason and District
Superintendant of the Methodist Church writes: "Let no one say you cannot be a
Christian and a Mason at the same time. I know too many who are both and proud
to be both."
But we are proud, as Masons, that members of all faiths have
found value in the fraternity. Rabbi Seymour Atlas, 32nd degree, and holder of
some of the highest Masonic honors, writes of what he finds in Masonry: "I was
brought up in a religious home, a son of a Rabbi with seven generations of
Rabbis preceding me... I am proud to be a Mason who believes in the dignity of
God's children and opposes hatred and bigotry, and stands for truth, justice,
kindness, integrity and righteousness for all."
Is Masonry Anti-Christian?
No, Masonry is not anti ANY religion. This charge is raised
by some anti-Masonic writers. Quoting Matthew 12:30 ("He that is not with me, is
against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad."), they claim
that, since Masonry does not require its members to be Christian, we are
First of all, of course, a reading of the entire passage
makes it quite clear that Jesus was answering the Pharisees who were criticizing
Him; it is not a passage which relates to the present discussion at all. Most
people wouldn't agree that there are only two positions in the world-- Christian
and anti-Christian. The government of the United States, the city library, even
the natural gas company, all serve and employee Christians and non-Christians
alike-- but no reasonable person would say they were, therefore
"anti-Christian." Masons encourage their members in their individual faiths, we
do not oppose any faith.
Does Masonry have a hidden religious agenda or practice,
known only to "higher" Masons?
No, The religious position of Freemasonry is stated often
and openly, and we've already mentioned it above. A Mason must believe in God,
and he is actively encouraged to practice his individual faith. Masonry has no
"god" of its own. Some anti-Masons have said that we are not allowed to mention
the name of God in Lodge. That isn't true-- in fact that is one of the two
meanings of the "G" in the square and compasses logo (the other meaning is
"geometry"). It is true that we generally use some other term, "Grand Architect
of the Universe" is most common, to refer to God. That is done only to avoid
giving religious offense to anyone whose faith refers to God by another name.
But the God to whom Masons pray is the God to whom all Christians pray.
But haven't some Masonic writers said that the information
given in the early Masonic degrees is incomplete or even misleading?
Again, it's a matter of Masonic writers writing for those
they assume have a background knowledge. Another way we say the same thing is
"Masonry is a progressive science, revealed by degrees." There's nothing
astonishing, and certainly nothing sinister in that. ALL knowledge is gained bit
by bit, and this is especially true in ethics and morality. A minister, who gave
a new member of the church a copy of the works of, for example, Cyprian, Clement
of Alexandria, and Origen, and said "When you've mastered those, let me know,"
would do very little good. Instead, Masonry introduces the idea of ethics and
morality, and gives some practicle instruction in each. But then it says to the
Mason, "We teach by symbols because symbols can be constantly explored. Think
about these things, read what others have written. Only in that way can you make
the knowledge and insight really your own." Masonry tries very hard to raise
questions, and to help its members acquire the tools for thought-- but we do not
try to give answers.
Why is it so hard to find an official statement of Masonic
Because there isn't such a thing. We've already mentioned
everything Masonry has to say officially on the topic. To go further, as an
official position would deny a man his right to think for himself and his right
to follow the dictates of his own faith. Each Mason has a right to seek Masonry
for what he wants to find. It is his right to believe as he wishes; BUT is is
not his right to force that belief on others.
But isn't the Masonic scholar Albert Pike's major book
entitled "Morals and Dogma"?
Yes. As is clear from his writings, however, Pike using the
word in its original Greek sense of "that which I think is true." or "that which
has been thought to be true," not in the modern sense of "this is what you are
required to believe."
And the question of "Morals and Dogma" brings up an
important point. Anti-Masonic writers are forever "discovering" something they
find shocking in the book, largely because they don't understand what kind of
book it is. Pike was attempting the almost impossible task of surveying and
condensing the whole history of human thought in philosophy into one volume. He
writes about things which were believed in ancient Egypt, China, Persia-- all
over the world. It's easy to take a paragraph out of context-- as one writer
does with Pike's comment about the ancient Egyptian belief in Osiris-- and then
insist that Masons teach and believe that all good comes from Osiris. But a
history lesson is not a statement of theology.
Some of the anti-Masonic writers seem almost to deliberately
twist things to make them say what they want. As an example, the same writer,
takes a passage in which Pike in contrasting the immortality of the soul with
the temporary nature of earthly things. To illustrate the impermanence of the
body as apposed to the sould, Pike notes that, when we die, our bodies resolve
again into the earth. The minerals of which it was compossed may scatter far.
Those minerals may be picked up again by the roots of plants, grow into food,
and be eaten by other men. This, the anti-Masonic writer suggests, is pagan
Masonic communion-- eating the dead! A simple illustration is distorted into a
Which Masonic writer does Masonry consider
None, if you mean "authoritative" in the sense that they
speak for the fraternity or that what they say is "binding" upon Masons. Each
Mason must think for himself, and each is entitled to write whatever he wishes.
It's like the situation is studying government. If a person
really wants to understand American Government, he or she almost has to read
Madison's and Hamilton's "Federalist Papers" as well as de Toqueville and the
History of the Constitutional Convention. But none of those things are the law--
they are just commentaries on the way the law was made, and the thinking of the
people who wrote the Constitution.
It's like that with Masonic writers. Some have a lot of
value to say-- some are useless (each man can write whatever he wants, after
all)-- but none of them "speaks" for Masonry. He can only speak for himself.
Is there such a thing as a Masonic Bible?
No. The Bibles sometimes called "Masonic Bibles" are just
Bibles (usually the King James Version) to which a concordance, giving the
Biblical citations on which the Masonic Ritual is based, has been added.
Sometimes reference material on Masonic history is included. Anyone is welcome
to read one.
Is Freemasonry a secret society?
No. A secret society tries to hide the fact that it exists.
Masonic Lodges are marked with signs, listed in the phone book and their meeting
places and times are usually listed in the newspaper. Members identify
themselves with pins and rings. The only secret in Masonry relate to the ways we
can recognize each other. The ritual of Masonry, the Monitor, is in print and
anyone can read it. Interestingly, the anti-Masonic writers who condemn us for
being a secret society are always quoting from the Monitor. If is's a secret, it
isn's a very well-kept one.
So what do Masons mean by "Secrecy?" What kind of secrecy
do we teach?
The first and most important kind is the ability to keep
confidences. All of us value those friends whome we can talk, "blow off steam,"
really open ourselves to, and still know without any question that the friend
will never tell anyone else or use those moments of sometimes painful honesty
against us in any way. As it says in Proverbs 11, 13 "a talebearer revealeth
secrets, but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter." Masons are
taught it's important to be such a friend.
The second kind of secrecy we teach is the idea of "doing
good in silence." One of the degrees says it this way: "Be careful that you do
not contribute to showy charities in order to have the reputation of being a
charitable man, while sending away from your door the Poor whom God has sent to
Secrecy, in those senses, is a virtue, and it is in those
senses it is taught in Masonry.
Can a Christian take the vows or obligations of a
Yes, with the exception of a very few denominations. If a
Christian belongs to a denomination which forbids all vows, such as the Oath of
Office of the President of the United States or the common oath of the law
courts, "I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth, so help me God," then he probably could not take the obligation. Any
Christian, whose denomination does not forbid the Presidential or the court
oath, or the oath taken when entering the Armed Services could take the Masonic
obligation. Some anti-Masonic writers have complained about the so-called
"penalties" in the Masonic obligations. Those penalties are purely symbolic and
refer to the pain, despair and horror which which any honest man should feel at
the thought that he had violated his sworn word.
Does Masonry use symbols which are diabolical in
No. Masonry uses many symbols-- it's our primary way of
teaching, as it has been the primary way of teaching from ancient times (just
try teaching arithmatic without number symbols)-- but there is nothing satanic
about them. Symbols mean what the person uses them to mean. X may be a St.
Andrew's Cross, ancient symbol of Scotland, or it may mean "multiply two numbers
together" (or "10" in Roman Numerals, or "unknown" in algebra, or "don't do
this," or "truce," or "Xenon" in chemistry, or "by" as in 2 x 4 board, or "this
is the spot," or even "railroad crossing"). It depends on the meaning in the
mind of the person using it.
It's the same for Masonic symbols. We sometimes use the
five-pointed star, for example. Some people chose to see that as a symbol of
withcraft. It's their right to use it that way in their own thinking if they
wish. But we use it as a symbol of man, because that is its oldest meaning (the
five points refer to the head, the hands and the feet). The five-pointed star,
with one point downward, is used by the Order of the Eastern Star. Some
anti-Masons like to see it as a symbol of the devil. But it's also known as the
"Star of the Incarceration," with the downward-pointing ray representing that
moment when God came down from Heavan and was Incarnate by the Holy Ghost. And
it is in that meaning it is used by the Eastern Star ("We have seen His star in
the East, and are coming to worship him").
But don't some writers say that in the 30th degree of the
Scottish Rite the room is filled with diabolical symbols and the candidate comes
face to face with Lucifer?
Some anti-Masonic writers have said that, but it isn't true.
First of all, they mistake a stage-set for a sanctuary. The Degrees of Masonry
are plays, some set in the Lodge room and some using full stage settings. The
message of the 30th degree is that man should think about death, (not avoid the
thought fearfully), and realize that death is not frightening but a natural
process. So the setting contains traditional symbols of death, like black
curtains and the drawing of a mausoleum.
But the material which these writers quote as coming from
the 30th degree doesn't. They generally quote from the anti-Masonic book
"Scottish Rite Masonry Illuminated". The anonymous author of the book wildly
changed materials wherever he wished-- even some of the names of the degrees are
Although the book is presented as a ritual of the
fraternity, you need only read through his introductory notes or end notes to
realize that he intends it as an attack of Freemasonry, which he calls "a tissue
of fearful falsehood."
The book is generally quoted by writers who insist that,
instead of quoting anti-Masonic materials, they are using only material, written
by and/or published by Masons for Masons." Perhaps they have not read the notes.
Is Masonry "guilty" of teaching toleration?
And proud of it! It seems a strange accusation, but
anti-Masonic writers often charge that we accept people with many different
religious viewpoints as Brothers. They are correct. Jesus did not say to us, "A
new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another-- as long as he goes
to the same church you do, or belongs to the same political party." Yet one
anti-Masonic writer claims that this toleration is the blackest sin of Masonry.
Toleration, he says, "springs from pits of hell and from the father of lies,
Lucifer." When you consider what intolerance has produced in the world-- the
Inquisition, the burning or Protestants at the stake, the horrors of Hitler, the
mass murders of Stalin, the "killing fields" of Cambodia, the massacre of the
inhabitants of Jerusalem by the Crusaders-- it is hard to believe that
toleration springs from the devil.
Does freemasonry teach that man can be saved by good
That charge is sometimes leveled against us by anti-Masons
who mistake both the nature of Masonry and the meanings of its ritual. Salvation
is not a grace which Masonry can or does offer. As the Reverend Christopher
Haffner points out in his book, "Workman Unshamed: The Testimony of a Christian
Freemason", "Withing their Lodges, Freemasons are not concerned with salvation
and conversion, but with taking men as they are and pointing them in the
direction of brotherhood and moral improvement. Insofar as the Order is
successful in this aim, it is content, and leaves the member to devote himself
to his own religious faith to receive the grace of salvation."
In most Masonic rituals, the candidate is reminded of that
even before he steps into the Lodge room for the first time. A typical example
reads: "You are aware that whatever a man may have gained here on earth, whether
of titles, wealth, honors, or even his own merit, can never serve him as
passport to heavan; but previous to his gaining admission there he must become
poor and destitute, blind and naked, dependent upon the sovereign Will of God;
he must be divested of the rags of his own righteousness, and be clothed in a
garment furnished him from on high.
Is a Masonic service a worship service?
No. Except, perhaps, in the sense that, for a Christian,
EVERY act is an act of worship. Our meetings open and close with prayer, Masons
are encouraged to remember that God sees and knows everything that we do, and
the Bible is always open during a Masonic meeting. But it is a meeting of a
fraternity, not a worship service.
And that brings up one of the most ridiculous charges
sometimes made against us-- that our members are "really" worshiping a demon or
some pagan god such as the Baalim, Bel, Osiris, Mendes, Pan, etc..-- only they
don't know it! But you cannot worhsip something with out knowing it. The act of
worship is an act of full concentration, knowledge, and devotion-- "with all thy
heart and with all thy sould and with all thy mind." We honor and venerate GOD,
not the Adversary.
One example will serve to show the complete lack of
foundation of these kinds of charges. The charge of worshiping a demon usually
involves one named "Baphomet." Historians know the origin of the story.
In brief, during the middle ages, a military monastic order
known as the Knights Templar, grew very wealthy. King Philip the Fair of France
and the Pope, wanting to confiscate their treasure, had them thrown into prison
and accused of heresy (the only charge that would allow for the confiscation of
the property) in 1307. Philip, fearing that the Inquisition would be too gentle
(!) had his own commissioners involved. After years or horrible torture, some of
the knights signed confessions-- of anything their tortureers wanted.
They were burned at the stake.
A standard part of the pre-written confessions was
worshiping an idol named Baphomet (language scholars tell us that "Baphoment"
was a term for "Mohammed" in the Middle Ages). You can read the full story in
any good historical account of the period.
So, "Baphomet" wasn't the name of a demon, the Knights
Templar did not worship him/it, their "confessions" were obtained under torture
and, at any rate, a false charge used to steal from and murder military monks in
A.D. 1307 has nothing to do with Freemasonry.
Did Albert Pike really say that all Masons were secret
followers of Lucifer?
No. In many anti-Masonic books you'll see what is supposed
to be a quotation from Pike, saying that all Masons of the "Higher Degrees" are
secret worshipers of Lucifer or that we reguard Lucifer as God. The historical
fact is that those words were written in 1894, three years after Pike's death.
They were written by a notorious athiest and pornographer named Gabriel
Jogand-Pages, but better known by his pen name, Leo Taxil. Taxil was engaged in
an elaborate hoax to discredit both Freemasonry and the Church of Rome, and made
up the Pike quotation out of thin air. He then "discovered" the letters, and
revealed them to the world. He was highly praised by the religious authorities--
showered with honors and listed as a defender of the faith for having revealed
the "true evil purposes of Masonry."
Then, just as he was being acclaimed all over Europe for his
"religious zeal," he pubicly announced the hoax, making everyone look like
fools. The scandal broke in 1897, but the supposed "Pike letter" had already
been published by a man named Abel Clarin de la Rive, who took Taxil's hoax at
Rive's book, "La Femme et l'Efant dans la Franc-Maconnerie
Universelle", (Woman and Child in Universal Freemasonry) was quoted by Edith
Starr Miller in 1933, in her book, Occult Theocrasy. She translated the
"quotation" into English.
Since that time, several writers of anti-Masonic books have
simply repeated the "quotation" without checking on its source or authenticity.
Taxil's pubic confession and Rive's subsequent retraction of his book
notwithstanding, it continues to shadow the name of Pike, who was, to his death,
a sincere and devoted Trinitarian Christian.
Can one learn more about Freemasonry without joining the
Yes. The Grand Lodge of almost any state can provide
information and lists of books which explain Freemasonry in detail. They are the
same books that Freemasons read and study to learn more about the fraternity.
And I hope that this short discussion may help resolve some doubts. We have
neither horns and tails nor halos. Masons are simply your neighbors, joined
together in a fraternity which tries to help men become better people as it
tries to help the world become a better place through its charities. It is, so
to speak, a "support group" for men who are trying to practice ethics and
morality in a world which does not always encourage those ideals.
Freemasonry's teachings are acceptable to all religions--
upholding the values of faith in the secular world-- an organization for
thoughtful Christians-- and all men of good will.