In the previous segment we considered the question as to whether Freemasonry is a secret society. This was brought up on December 8, 2013 AD by CBS’s Sunday Morning show “Inside the secret world of the Freemasons” hosted by Mo Rocca. UCLA’s history professor Margaret Jacob, who is said to be “one of the world's leading experts on Freemasonry” said no but the Masons and CBS said yes.
Prof. Jacob was also asked, “True or false? Freemasonry is a religion.” And replied “No.”
A companion CBS article by David Morgan, 9 things you didn't know about Freemasonry “looks at the rumors, fears and conspiracy theories sparked by the Freemasons' fraternal order, its secrets and rituals.”
Therein the assertion was made that, “Freemasonry is not a religion” along with this text:
"Freemasonry has the look of a religion," said Jacob. "You think of religion as ritual, there's also this ritual element. But there are no priests, there are no ministers, there are no rabbis, there's no system of clergy of any sort. Everybody's their own thinker."
There may not be any priests, ministers, rabbis, etc. but, by the way Prof., there are “Worshipful Masters,” etc.
CBS, essentially, sidestepped the issue by appealing to that about which Masons speak not:
"Now, would people talk about religion here in a meeting?" Rocca asked.
"Absolutely not," said Vaughan. "There are certain subjects which are prevented from discussing within the Lodge. And religion is one. Politics is another."
1. When meeting, Masons do not discuss religion or politics.
"There are certain subjects which are prevented or we simply proscribe from discussing within the lodge," Piers Vaughan, master of St. John's Lodge #1 in New York, told Mo Rocca. "And religion is one. Politics is another."
One of the world's leading experts on Freemasonry confirms.
"Do they discuss forms of politics and events that have happened? Yes, they do," said UCLA history professor Margaret Jacob. "Do they say, 'Well, I'm a Democrat and therefore I think …' Or, 'I'm a Republican ... ' No, I don't think they do that." [ellipses in original]
4. Atheists are not welcome.
Freemasonry is not a religion per se, but agnostics or atheists cannot belong, said Brent Morris, a Masonic historian, editor of the Scottish Rite Journal, and a 33rd degree Freemason.
"This is an organization of believers," he said. "When it was started on a formal basis in 1717, many historians believe that it was trying to bridge the gap between the religious civil wars that had been going on in England at the time. The Catholics would get in power and beat up on the Protestants; the Protestants would get in power and beat up on the Catholics; and everyone was beating up on the Jews.
"So when the Freemasons were formed, [they] said, 'Here's a group of men that agree that God is central in their lives, they can even agree that God compels them to do good in the community, then they can shut up after that." That was a radical concept -- that men could get together and agree on that fundamental level, and then get on with their lives."
So could an atheist join? No, said James Sullivan, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York: "The reason we, I think in the past, wanted somebody that had a belief in a supreme being is because we take certain obligation to be a good man, to support the fraternity. And if you didn't have a belief in a supreme being, the obligation would mean nothing."
Yet, CBS also noted:
At the center of any lodge room is an altar. "All the activities of the lodge take place about the altar," said Piers Vaughan, the Lodge Master.
So this non-religious group excludes the non-religious. Now, as we did in the previous segment; let us see that which Masonic authorities have to say.
Albert G. Mackey, A Manual of the Lodge: Monitorial Instructions In The Degrees Of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason (1870 AD, ed., p. 40):
As Masons we are taught never to commence any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing and protection of Deity, and this is because Masonry is a religious institution.
Albert Pike, 33 degree mason and author of Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (p. 213):
Every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion; and its teachings are instructions in religion.
Albert Mackey, The Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence: Illustrating the Written and Unwritten Laws of Masonry (1865 AD ed., p. 95):
The most important article of furniture in a Lodge room is undoubtedly the altar…It is a sacred utensil of religion, intended, like the altars of the ancient temples, for religious uses, and thus identifying Masonry, by its necessary existence in our Lodges, as a religious institution. Its presence should also lead the contemplative Mason to view the ceremonies in which it is employed with solemn reverence, as being part of a really religious worship.
Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (Masonic Historical Co., 1921 AD, Volume I, pages 617-619):
There has been a needless expenditure of ingenuity and talent, by a large number of Mason orators and essayists, in the endeavor to prove that Masonry is not religion...On the contrary, I contend, without any sort of hesitation, that Masonry is, in every sense of the word...an eminently religious institution -- that it is indebted solely to the religious element which it contains for its origin and for its continued existence, and that without this religious element it would scarcely be worthy of cultivation by the wise and good...
The tendency of all true Masonry is toward religion. If it make any progress, its progress is to that holy end. Look at its ancient landmarks, its sublime ceremonies, its profound symbols and allegories -- all inculcating religious doctrine, commanding religious observance, and teaching religious truth, and who can deny that it is eminently a religious institution?...
Masonry, then, is, indeed, a religious institution; and on this ground mainly, if not alone, should the religious Mason defend it.
As per J. Blanchard, Scottish Rite Masonry Illustrated (1979 AD, Volume I, page 453) the purpose of Freemasonry is “to establish the true religion of the most high God.”
Masonry seeks to break down and rebuild all religions in its own image. Henry C. Clausen noted the following in Clausen’s Commentaries on Morals and Dogma (The Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 1981 AD ed., p. 157); an Entered Apprentices is instructed that Freemasonry’s goal is to “strip from all religions their orthodox tenets, legends, allegories and dogmas.” This is because, as per Pike’s Morals and Dogma (p. 285), “there is but one true religion, one dogma, one legitimate belief.”
Mackey further elucidates in the Encyclopedia (Volume II, p. 618):
Freemasonry is not Christianity…It does not meddle with sectarian creeds or doctrines, but teaches fundamental religious truth.
As per J. Blanchard Scottish Rite (Volume II, p. 264):
Whatever may be the religious forms imposed upon you by superstition at a period of your life when you were incapable of discerning truth from falsehood, we do not even require you to relinquish them. Time and study alone can enlighten you. But remember that you will never be a true Mason unless you repudiate forever all superstition and prejudices.
The Masonic Monitor of the Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason (Free and Accepted Masons of Arkansas, 1983 AD ed., p. 15) notes:
the Holy Bible is given us as the rule and guide for our faith and practice.
But that is only for Christian Freemasons (a contradiction in terms). In fact, George Wingate Chase wrote the following in Digest of Masonic Law (1874 AD ed., pp. 207-208):
Blue Lodge Masonry has nothing whatever to do with the Bible. It is not founded on the Bible. If it were, it would not be Masonry.
But why is Christian Freemason a contradiction in terms? As CBS put it:
"Even while blindfolded, try to concentrate on what you are asked, what is said to you, and what is happening around you. Everything will be explained to you in later sections of the degree."
"When a candidate comes in through the door, he's blindfolded because, symbolically, he is in a state of darkness," said Vaughan, "because Masonry is all about moving from darkness into Masonic light."
As for what happens after that . . . well, that's a secret.
Jesus stated, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
John the Baptist is said to have come to testify of “the true light” (John 1:9) as opposed to satan who disguises himself as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Moreover, “If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true” (1 John 1:6). Thus, a Christian simply cannot be “in a state of darkness” and go “from darkness into Masonic light.”
As usual, Pike is not shy about laying it all out in Morals and Dogma (p. 11):
The Bible is an indispensable part of the furniture of a Christian Lodge, only because it is the sacred book of the Christian religion. The Hebrew Pentateuch in a Hebrew Lodge, and Koran in a Mohammedan one, belong on the Altar...The obligation of the candidate is always to be taken on the sacred book or books of his religion, that he may deem it more solemn and binding; and therefore it was that you were asked of what religion you were. We have no other concern with your religious creed.
Henry Wilson Coil, Coil’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1961 AD ed., p. 520):
The prevailing Masonic opinion is that the Bible is only a symbol of Divine Will, Law, or Revelation, and not that its contents are Divine Law, inspired, or revealed. So far, no responsible authority has held that a Freemason must believe the Bible or any part of it.
H.L. Haywood, The Great Teachings of the Lodge (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1971 AD ed., p. 94):
All our historians, at least nearly all of them, agree that Freemasonry owes very much to certain occult societies or groups that flourished -- often in secrecy -- during the late Middle Ages, and even into the after-Reformation times. Chief among these were the Rosicrucians and the Knights Templar.
Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma (p. 741):
Masonry is a search after light. That search leads us directly back to the Kabalah. In that ancient medley of absurdity and philosophy, the Initiate will find the source of many [Masonic] doctrines.
Well, this was certainly a start as concerns discerning the facts as to whether Freemasonry is or is not a religion.
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