|Volume LVI||October 2009||Number 3|
From the Northeast Corner
An occasional periodical on Masonic Knowledge published by the Pennsylvania Lodge of Research
Bro. Stephen Gardner, R.W. Grand Master • Bro. Joseph F. Acton, Worshipful Master, 2009
There has been a lot of interest in Freemasonry recently with movies, books and magazines touting the fraternity as something mystical, secretive, tyrannical, anti-church, anti-clerical, Satanic and a substitute for religion. Sometimes our own members can be confused, especially when criticized by members of churches and other religious institutions, which accuse Freemasonry of being a religion or a substitute for religion.
As noted by the Masonic Service Association, in its release of "Freemasonry and Religion" in December of 1993 (and revised in September 1996), Freemasonry is NOT a religion. While we require of our members their belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, Freemasonry advocates no sectarian faith or practice. While our Masonic ceremonies and gatherings involve prayers, both traditional and extempore, which affirm our dependence on God and which seek divine guidance, Freemasonry is open to men of any faith.
The Obligations that Freemasons take are sworn on the Volume of the Sacred Law, regarded as "the rule and guide of life." In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this open book is the Bible. To Freemasons of other faiths, it is the book held holy by them. These obligations are undertakings to follow the principles of Freemasonry and to keep confidential Masonic means of recognition. The much-discussed "penalties," judicial remnants from an earlier era, are symbolic, not literal. They really symbolically refer to the pain any honest man should feel at the thought of violating his word.
Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion: (a) it has no dogma or theology; (b) it offers no Sacraments; and (c) it does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge or any other means. The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with modes of recognition, not the means of salvation.
However, Freemasonry is far from indifferent toward religion. Without interfering in religious practice, Masonry expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his duty to God above all other duties. The moral teachings of Freemasonry are, if honestly presented and acknowledged, acceptable to all religions.
For further reference and information, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania some years ago presented a video discussion on Freemasonry and Religion. This can be accessed through your District Deputy Grand Master or the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania.
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