Is Freemasonry a religion?
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It has no theology and does not teach any route to salvation. A belief in God, however, is an essential requirement for membership and Freemasonry encourages its members to be active in their own religions as well as in society at large.
Although every lodge meeting is opened and closed with a prayer and its ceremonies reflect the essential truths and moral teachings common to many of the world's great religions, no discussion of religion is permitted in lodge meetings.
The following information explains the United Grand Lodge of England's view of the relationship between Freemasonry and religion.
Basic Statement:- Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It demands of its members a belief in a Supreme Being but provides no system of faith of its own.
Freemasonry is open to men of all religious faiths. The discussion of religion at its meetings is forbidden.
The Supreme Being:- The names used for the Supreme Being enable men of different faiths to join in prayer (to God as each sees Him) without the terms of the prayer causing dissention among them. There is no separate Masonic God; a Freemason's God remains the God of the religion he professes.
Freemasons meet in common respect for the Supreme Being, but He remains Supreme in their individual religions, and it is no part of Freemasonry to attempt to join religions together. There is therefore no composite Masonic God.
Why do you call God the Great Architect?
Freemasonry embraces all men who believe in God. Its membership includes Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsees and others. The use of descriptions such as the Great Architect prevents disharmony. The Great Architect is not a specific Masonic god or an attempt to combine all gods into one. Thus, men of differing religions pray together without offense being given to any of them.
Volume of the Sacred Law:- The Bible, referred to by Freemasons as the Volume of the Sacred Law, is always open at every Masonic meeting.
Why do you call it the VSL and not the Bible? To the majority of Freemasons the Volume of the sacred Law is the Bible. There are many in Freemasonry, however, who are not Christian and to them the Bible is not their sacred book and they will make their promises on the book which is regarded as sacred to their religion. The Bible will always be present in an English lodge but as the organisation welcomes men of many different faiths, it is called the Volume of the Sacred Law. Thus, when the Volume of the Sacred Law is referred to in ceremonies, to a non-Christian it will be the holy book of his religion and to a Christian it will be the Bible.
The Obligation of Freemasonry:- The Obligations taken by Freemasons are sworn on or involve the Volume of the Sacred Law, or the book held sacred by those concerned.
They are undertakings to help keep secret a Freemason's means of recognition, and to follow the principles of Freemasonry. The physical penalties, which are purely symbolic, do not form part of an Obligation. The commitment to follow the principles of Freemasonry is, however, deep.
Freemasonry Compared with Religion:- Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion.
a) it has no theological doctrine, and by forbidding religious discussion at its meetings will not allow a Masonic theological doctrine to develop.
b) It offers no sacraments.
c) It does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge or by any other means.
The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with modes of recognition and not with salvation.
Why don't some churches like Freemasonry?
There are elements within certain churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. Although the Methodist Conference and the General Synod of the Anglican Church have occasionally criticised Freemasonry, in both Churches there are many Masons and indeed others who are dismayed that the Churches should attack Freemasonry, an organisation which has always encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
Why will Freemasonry not accept Roman Catholics as members?
It does. The prime qualification for admission into Freemasonry has always been a belief in God. How that belief is expressed is entirely up to the individual. Four Grand Masters of English Freemasonry have been Roman Catholics. There are many Roman Catholic Freemasons.
Freemasonry Supports Religion:- Freemasonry is far from indifferent to religion. Without interfering in religious practice it expects each member to follow his own faith, and to place above all other duties his duty to God, by whatever name He is known. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions. Freemasonry is thus a supporter of religion.
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