Why do Freemasons take oaths?
New members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in Lodge and in society. Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of proving that he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a lodge where he is not known.
Freemasons do not swear allegiances to each other or to Freemasonry. Freemasons promise to support others in times of need, but only if that support does not conflict with their duties to God, the law, their family or with their responsibilities as a Citizen.
Why do your 'obligations' contain hideous penalties?
They no longer do. When Masonic ritual was developing in the late 1600's and 1700's it was quite common for legal and civil oaths to include physical penalties and Freemasonry simply followed the practice of the times. In Freemasonry, however, the physical penalties were always symbolic and were never carried out. After long discussion, they were removed from the promises in 1986.
This web-site created by W.Bro Dave Hodgson (Philanthropy 940)
Based on the template supplied by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham