Difficult Questions About Freemasonry | Freemasonry Matters (2024)

Is Freemasonry a religion?

No, Freemasonry is not a religion. Masons who treat it as such aremistaken. Freemasonry strongly encourages its members to belong to anestablished religion, although that is not a requirement for membership(only that a candidate profess a belief in a Supreme Being). Masonry isa fraternal organization that encourages morality and charity andstudies philosophy. It has no clergy, no sacraments, and does notpromise salvation to its members.

But what about terms like “Temple,” “Worshipful,” and so on?

Labor unions meet in a Labor Temple. A museum may be called theTemple of Fine Arts. This does not mean that they are religiousinstitutions. The same is true of Freemasonry. (Masonic buildings arealso called Lodge Halls and Masonic Centers as well as Masonic Temples.Some Scottish Rite buildings are called “Cathedrals,” but that is from aGreek word meaning “chair,” and referring to the seat of authority ofany sort.)

The term “worshipful” stems from 18th century English usage, whenFreemasonry in its present form was being organized. The term hasnothing to do with religious worship but is an old synonym for“honorable” or “respected.” Check any good dictionary!

Similarly, Freemasons engage in group prayer and have a chaplain,just as do the armed services and the houses of Congress. That does notmake Masonry into a religion.

Is there a conflict between Freemasonry and establishedreligion?

There is nothing in Freemasonry that conflicts with most religions.However, Freemasonry does insist on religious tolerance. To the extentthat certain religious groups would wish to suppress other religions orpersecute their followers, Freemasons would be in opposition to suchactivities, and adherents of such groups would be both uncomfortable andunwelcome in Masonry. It is also the case that certain religious groupsare misinformed about Freemasonry and believe things about theFraternity that are not true; basing their opinions on this falseinformation, they then formulate opinions that create conflict.

Is Freemasonry a cult?

That depends on what is meant by “cult.” By some definitions,Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are cults. By another definition,golfing, bowling, and surfing the Internet are cults. But in the usualuse of the term, referring to a group that separates itself from societyand its members from their non-member friends, demands slavish obediencefrom its adherents, engages in brainwashing techniques, confiscatestheir resources, and sees itself in opposition to established society,absolutely not!

Quite the opposite, in fact: Masonry does not recruit members, doesnot compel attendance at any of its meetings, charges modest dues andfees (some little changed from sixty years ago, when the dollar wasworth a lot more), encourages community service and participation incivic and religious organizations, and allows any member to quit (demit)at any time (providing he has no outstanding financial obligations;otherwise, he is liable to be suspended, but in either case, he would nolonger be a member). It is easier to get out of Masonry than it is toget into it!

Why do certain fundamentalist groups oppose Freemasonry?

Mostly out of ignorance and misinformation, although possibly out offear of competition for time and attention with the church (churcheshave been suffering the same loss of active membership over the past fewdecades as has Freemasonry). Ignorance of Masonry allows misinformationto spread. For example, it is claimed that Freemasonry has a “plan ofsalvation” that is in opposition to that of the Christian Church.Simply not true; nothing in any of the Masonic degrees refers tosalvation.

Is there no Masonic theology, then?

An examination of the the degrees will reveal that there is a basictheology of Masonry, as follows:

There is a Supreme BeingWho created the Universe,Who has established and revealed a moral law,And to Whom we must give accountin a life after this.

These five points are supported by material in the lectures andrelated contents of the degrees, such as the discourses on the WorkingTools. But there is nothing in these points that is in conflict withany major religion of the Western world. (To be sure, there arebranches of Buddhism that are non-theistic, and there are those who donot believe in an afterlife, but they need not become Freemasons, nordoes Masonry seek to dissuade them from their beliefs.)

What about allegations that Freemasonry is Satanic or pagan?

Most of these are complete fabrications; the rest aremisunderstandings of the institution and its rituals. A number offorgeries and alleged exposes of Masonry were created during the lastcentury. Most of the claims of “Satanism” in Masonry can be traced toone or two of these fraudulent sources. Other such allegations aresimply made-up claims about what various Masonic emblems and symbolsstand for.

For example, it is sometimes claimed that the letter “G” found in theMaster Mason’s jewel, along with the Square and Compasses, is asubstitute for a phallic symbol. But there is nothing in Masonry tosupport such a statement; it is complete fiction. The letter “G” standsfor God (it is used by Masons who speak other languages due to themodern origins of Masonry in English-speaking countries); in theScottish Rite, the Hebrew letter yodh, which is the first letter of theTetragrammaton, or Ineffable Name, plays the same role.

Another example that came up recently was a discussion of the BlazingStar. This is one of the “ornaments” of a Lodge, introduced in theEntered Apprentice degree. A non-Mason insisted that

  • Masons “worship” the Blazing Star
  • the Blazing Star is somehow to be identified with Lucifer (basedon the verse Isaiah 14:12)
  • the Blazing Star is the “false dawn” that can then be identifiedwith a false light (in competition with the true Light of Jesus)
  • and that therefore Masons engage in devil worship.

Here are the facts:

  • Isaiah 14 is a chapter with a prophecy against the kings ofBabylon, specifically Nebuchadnezzar. The quoted verse is rendered, inmy Bible, “Day-star, son of the morning, how hast thou fallen?” In thispassage, the prophet alleges that the arrogant king of Babylon hasthought himself as glorious as a celestial body, but that thedestruction of the kingdom of Babylon shall surely bring him back toearth. The word here translated as “day-star” is, in Hebrew, “heyleyl,”and refers to the planet Venus. The ancient Greeks and Romans both useddifferent words for this planet when it appeared in the morning sky fromits appearance in the evening sky. The Greeks called it Hesperus in the evening and Phosphorus in the morning; the Romans called it Venus in theevening and Lucifer in the morning. Hence, the translation of theHebrew, via Greek, into Latin (i.e, from the Hebrew to the Septuagint tothe Vulgate), naturally would introduce the word “Lucifer” as thecorrect Latin translation of the Hebrew.
  • The term “Lucifer” as a name for the Devil or Satan, cannot betraced any farther back than the Middle Ages, and was only widelypopularized by Milton’s epic poem, “Paradise Lost.”The Minnesota Masonic Manual (as one source on the lectures ofMasonry) clearly identifies the Blazing Star as emblematic of the Starof Bethlehem, hardly a “Satanic” reference. It has nothing to do withthe planet Venus.
  • The Blazing Star is mentioned for about 30 seconds in a lecturesome 20-30 minutes in length (it depends on jurisdiction) in the firstdegree of Masonry only, an amount of attention that could scarcely bedescribed as “worship.”
  • The “false dawn” is not heralded by Venus, but is a phenomenonproduced by the Zodiacal Light, a band of dust lying in the plane of theEarth’s orbit, which most prominently appears as a skyglow beforesunrise in the fall (the false dawn) and after sunset in the spring, butcan only be observed under ideally dark conditions.

In other words, the allegation about Masonry in this case combinesmany errors: Taking a portion of a single verse of the Bible out ofcontext, misinterpreting its translation, misunderstanding anastronomical term, misidentifying a Masonic emblem with an astronomicalobject, and mischaracterizing the importance of a symbol in the ritual.Perhaps all of this can be attributed to ignorance, but since the factsare easy to obtain, one is forced to wonder about how such allegationscome to be and to persist.

Assertions about “pagan” material in Masonry may stem from the studyof material from the ancient world in some of the degrees. But this isnot paganism (the worship of idols, natural objects, or polytheistichuman-like deities). In fact, many of the early teachings of the Churchdepended heavily on the works of such “pagan” philosophers as Plato andAristotle; Christianity has absorbed such pagan elements as theChristmas tree, the name Easter (from a pagan fertility goddess), andthe actual date of Christmas (pre-empting the Roman’s pagan wintersolstice festival of the Saturnalia). Indeed, the mythos about the fallof Lucifer from heaven to the underworld is of pagan origin, derivedfrom the Graeco-Roman legend of Hephaestus (Vulcan) who fell from Mt.Olympus to the nether regions, where his forges were located, and inancient art is depicted as lame from the fall. There have been manythinkers and learned men in cultures other than that of the West in theJudaeo-Christian era, and it is not “paganism” to study them.

If Masonry is so aboveboard, why is it “secret?”

There are fewer secrets to Freemasonry than most non-members imagine;even many Masons are not entirely clear on what is and is not secret inMasonry. The moral principles of Masonry are the same as those taughtyou in Sunday school or at your mother’s knee (sometimes over it!); itis only the exact procedures and words by which those principles aretaught in Masonry that are secret, for it is the knowledge of those thatdistinguishes a Mason from those who are not members. To be entitled tothe fellowship peculiar to the Lodge, a Mason must be able to identifyhimself, and these secrets provide the means for doing so.

A better term than “secrecy” would be privacy. Masonry is not apublic organization like a school board or a city council. It is anassociation of private citizens, just like a country club or a church.No one who is not a member has a right to know about the internalworkings of any of these things. They are private to the group, not“secret.”

What about “blood oaths” and hideous penalties of thedegrees?

It is true that Masons must take solemn obligations to be faithful tothe principles of Masonry, and their very nature and seriousness impliesthat there should be penalties. However, the language of theseobligations makes it clear that the penalties are not actually inflictedby the Lodge or any body of Masonry but are expressions of how disgracedand contemptible one should feel for violating such an obligation. Insome jurisdictions, the candidate is told that the penalties are of“ancient origin and symbolic only.” Later degrees make this even moreapparent, even if the actual information is not specifically addressedto the candidate. But the true penalties for violation of the laws ofMasonry are three only: Admonition (or reprimand), suspension, orexpulsion. Stories about Masons being maimed or murdered for violationof their oaths are just that: fiction. Not one single instance can bedocumented, despite the many attempts by the enemies of Masonry topromote this slander.

Masons say one thing, anti-Masons say another — whom should Ibelieve?

The history of Freemasonry is well documented, and its major playersinclude a vast number of contributors to society–men such asWashington, Truman, and Churchill in politics, Goethe, Schiller, andConan Doyle in literature, Burl Ives, Ernest Borgnine, Gene Autry in theperforming arts, Mozart, Haydn, and Irving Berlin in music, and on andon. Freemasons played essential roles in the civilization of the NewWorld, taming the west (Kit Carson was a Freemason), freeing LatinAmerica (Bolivar was a Mason, as was Bernardo O’Higgins), and so on.Freemasons have established a vast array of charitable activities,primarily focussing on the health field, such as the famous Shriners’Children’s Hospitals for treatment of orthopedic problems and burns, theScottish Rite speech disorder clinics, the Masonic cancer centers, theTall Cedars’ activities for muscular dystrophy, and many others. Not tomention homes for the aged and even dormitory accomodations at theUniversity of Texas.

Among the anti-Masons, one can count a single president of the US,John Quincy Adams (thirteen presidents were Masons), two literaryfigures (Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens–and it is not clearwhether Dickens was really an anti-Mason, or one who simply felt thatthe Masons of his time were not living up to their standards and weretherefore hypocrites), and almost no one else of any consequence inhistory or who has made a significant contribution to the humanities.The anti-Masons operate no charitable groups but engage in fund-raisingonly to support themselves: They sell books for profit, seek donationsto keep their “ministries” operating on television, and contributenothing to society at large.

All of this is a matter of public record; these facts do not dependon one’s ability to determine who is telling the truth. Further, wehave the experience of history to teach us what to believe of a group of“anti-” somethings, whether they are anti-Semites, anti-Catholics, oranti-Masons. That historical experience has shown that those who singleout a group, especially one different from the majority in society, foropprobrium and hatred are generally not telling the truth about thatgroup, but are seeking to benefit themselves from stirring up thepassions of the mob.

In other words, if we knew nothing of the Masons nor of theanti-Masons, it would be difficult to know whom to believe. But we arenot so ignorant as that. There are plenty of epistemological reasons tochoose to believe that Masons are telling the truth in the presentcontext, as opposed to accepting the word of the anti-Masons. (E.g.,one epistemological principle is known as Occam’s Razor–it tells us toaccept the simplest hypothesis that explains the known facts. Theanti-Masons, when confronted with their own contradictions, pile on evermore assumptions. Prove that “Lucifer” is not mentioned in the SymbolicRite of the first three degrees and they will assert that it is theScottish Rite that teaches “devil worship.” Prove that there is no suchthing in the 32 degrees, and they will claim it is taught in the 33rddegree. A denial by a 33rd degree Mason will lead to the attribution ofSatanism to the Knights Templar. And so on. The simpler hypothesis isthat there is no such Satanic nonsense in Freemasonry–given theconflict of assertions, Occam’s Razor directs us to this choice.) Theanti-Masons also engage in circular reasoning: They claim that there isa great “Masonic conspiracy” to control the world. Absent any evidenceof that, they claim that the very lack of evidence is “proof” of thepower of the conspiracy. (Too many Oliver Stone movies? Of course,even Congressmen have engaged in such reasoning, as in the case of the“October surprise” investigation, when Tom Foley suggested that the verylack of evidence was what justified a Congressional hearing. Aninability to reason against one’s own prejudices is not unique to theanti-Masons.)

Anti-Masons, in discussing some of the more inflammatory allegationsabout Masonry, such as the worship of satanic or pagan gods, also assertthat the vast majority of Masons are totally ignorant of the “real”nature of Masonry, which is revealed only to a few “high” Masons. Yetthese anti-Masons insist that they themselves know these hidden secretsbetter than most of the millions of active members of the Masonicfraternity. Is this a credible state of affairs?

In other words, there are very good reasons to believe that Masons,rather than anti-Masons are telling the truth about the Fraternity,based on the history of Freemasonry, the known character of those whohave been Freemasons, and the principles of epistemology. Of course, ifone is ignorant of the history and background of a witness, as well asignorant of the theory of knowledge, one is at the mercy of everysmooth-talking mountebank and charlatan to come along. (Why do youthink that criminal defense lawyers seek the most uninformed jurorspossible?)

A recent (Mon Aug 9 1999) update: In addition to spreading falsestories about the nature and intentions of Freemasonry in print media,television and radio programs, and Internet venues, the past few monthshave seen an escalation of anti-Masonic activity of an active nature onthe Internet. Anti-Masons have engaged in several forms of Net abuse,including multiple repeated postings to Usenet of the same material (adozen or more times), postings to large numbers of Usenet newsgroups,and combinations of these.

Within the past week or so, one anti-Masonin Australia with administrator privileges has begun issuing *CANCEL*requests for postings by Freemasons to alt.freemasonry and replacingthose messages with forgeries of the originals containing obscenities,incoherence, and so on.

Examination of the full message headersreveals these posts to have originated at telstra.net, near Canberra,and not with the ISPs of the reputed senders. Since anti-Masonsuniformly use anonymous posting methods and never appear under their ownnames or identities, closing down their accounts takes time.

The evidence of those actions can be found at what used to be knownas Deja News. Anti-Masons frequently allege that Masons are part ofsome worldwide criminal conspiracy; when they are caught doing the same,what does it mean for the credibility of their accusations? And whywould anyone take the word of a source or group of sources that chooseto be anonymous.

No, the matter of whom to believe is not one which requires hardthought to resolve.

Why Can’t Christians Pray in Lodge?

Of course Christians can pray in Lodge! What they may not do is offera specifically Christian prayer as Lodge prayer, any more than a Jew orMuslim may offer a prayer specific to his religion.

The reason for this is that it is the custom of Masonry to requireall to participate in and assent to Lodge prayer. How can it be properfor a Christian to require non-Christians to assent to a prayer peculiarto his own religious belief? No Christian would assent to a prayeroffered by a Jew or Muslim which essentially denied the doctrine of theTrinity. Because a Lodge acts in unison, prayers offered in Lodge mustbe of a nature that will be agreed to by all present.

To be sure, some Christians believe that only prayers given in aparticularly Christian form are truly prayers. These people cannotbecome Freemasons because they do not subscribe to the principles ofreligious toleration required of Masons. But most Christians do nothold these exclusive beliefs and have no objections to the form ofprayer offered in the Masonic Lodge.

Is Freemasonry anti-Catholic?

No. Masonry has no objection to the admission of a Catholic to theMasonic fraternity. Whether the Roman Catholic Church objects to aCatholic becoming a Freemason is their business, not ours. Masonrywould not counsel anyone to do something opposed by his religion. Thepresent position of the Church regarding Freemasonry is not altogetherclear; some sources indicate that the Vatican remains opposed to anyform of Freemasonry, others say that only those organizations which“plot against the Church” (which Masonry does not) are proscribed, andothers see no problem. This is a matter for any individual Catholic whomight be interested in joining the Masons and his spiritual advisor.

There is material in some of the degrees of the appendant bodies ofFreemasonry which might be interpreted as anti-Catholic, particularlywith reference to the history of the Knights Templar and the death ofJacques DeMolay. But those events occurred nearly 700 years ago! TheChurch of today is not the Church of the 14th century. The Churchitself has recognized that leaders of those times made errors of varioussorts; one need only look to the 20th century canonization of Joan ofArc, burned in the 15th century as a heretic, or the rehabilitation ofGalileo, forced in the 17th century to recant his scientific studies, torecognize this. The degrees of Masonry make no mention of the Church inany other than remote historical context.

Freemasonry is the enemy of tyranny and despotism, not of anyparticular religion or nationality. If the Church were to fall into thehands of the heartless and rapacious, as it did in earlier times (thedays of the Borgias and the Medicis, not to mention Torquemada), itwould be as much the duty of every Catholic to denounce such behavior asit would be for Freemasons–and modern-day Martin Luthers.

What is the role of various doctrinal books, like Pike’s Moralsand Dogma?

Actually, there are no “doctrinal” books in Freemasonry. Freemasonryis a society dedicated to free thinking and freedom of all kinds. NoMason has the right to dictate to another what he shall or shall notbelieve regarding his religion, his politics, or even his interpretationof the Masonic symbols.

There are a number of conventionalinterpretations of the symbols of Freemasonry, some of which are givenin the lectures of the degrees, but no Mason is required to accept anyor all of them; he is free to explore the world of thought and make uphis own mind.

Anti-Masons are fond of combing through Albert Pike’s Morals andDogma to find various passages that somehow “expose” the “secrets” ofFreemasonry’s dangerous beliefs. They conveniently ignore a number offacts:

  1. The preface of Morals and Dogma makes it clear that Pike’s work is an unannotated anthology, containing a portion of his own writing and also the works of many philosophers and theologians dating back to antiquity. Much of the book is derived from sources far removed fromFreemasonry in time.
  2. The preface also makes clear that no one is required to believe or accept any of the contents as truth. No “doctrinal” book would announce that every reader is “free to dissent” from any of its contents.
  3. Morals and Dogma was first of all written for those who have received the degrees of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the form developed and edited by Albert Pike (the “Pike recension”). For someone to attempt to interpret the contents without the knowledge of the degrees is like trying to understand a book on quantum physics without having mastered the basics of dynamics and statics.
  4. Morals and Dogma was written under the authority of the Supreme Council, 33rd Degree, for the Southern Jurisdiction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the USA. The SJ of the USA, AASR, encompasses only a minority of Masons in the US and an even smaller proportion worldwide. Outside of the SJ of the US, Albert Pike is of much less influence than many non-Masons (and certainly anti-Masons) suppose. (The same is true of later works which also elucidate the degrees of the SJ of the US, such as Clausen’s Commentaries and Hutchens’ A Bridge to Light.)

Similarly, anti-Masons like to quote (out of context, quite often)Manly Hall (who wrote many of his books before becoming a Freemason),Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, Albert Mackey, and others. Many of thesem*n did their writing a century or more ago and use an idiom not wellunderstood by those living today who are not familiar with such writingstyles. These books are useful reference sources for those who seek toimprove their knowledge of Masonry and who wish to sharpen their witsagainst the whetstone of great thinkers, but they are not doctrine.

I’ve read the ritual in an exposé; what is all this strangestuff?

Remember that Masons solemnly pledge to keep the ritual secret. An“exposé” is the product of someone who has broken a promise to hisfriends and neighbour and to God. Can you really trust that such aperson is telling you the truth?

Masonry must be experienced to be understood; reading the ritual doesnot truly confer the lessons of the degrees, even for those of us whohave the real ritual (and not some “exposé”). Masonry is a way of lifethat involves much more than the ceremonies of the degrees. Knowing apassword or secret handshake is not what makes a man a Mason. Theessence of Masonry is not something that can be written down.

Is Masonry some kind of global conspiracy?

The simplest answer is “no.” But that is not a very satisfying answerfor those who have heard many preposterous rumors about Masonry, the“New World Order,” the Bavarian Illuminati, and so on. Let’s look atsome of the issues that have been raised:

Global Organization

There is no single governing body of Freemasonry in the world. TheUnited Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is the descendant of the firstGrand Lodge formed in 1717, but that gives it no authority over otherGrand Lodges, all of which are equal. The UGLE does not even have totalauthority in Great Britain, for Scotland has its own Grand Lodge.

The Supreme Council of the Ancient And Accepted Scottish Rite for theSouthern Jurisdiction of the USA, sometimes is called the Mother SupremeCouncil of the World, for it was the first to be formed, but again, allSupreme Councils are equal, and chronological primacy confers no specialauthority. The Southern Jurisdiction of the AASR does not even havecomplete authority in the USA, for there is also a Supreme Council forthe Northern Jurisdiction, comprising the states east of the Mississippiand north of the Ohio River and Mason-Dixon Line.

There are the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch MasonsInternational and the General Grand Council of Cryptic MasonsInternational. But these bodies have mostly ceremonial impact; no GrandChapter or Grand Council is required to belong to its General Grandcounterpart, and many Grand Chapters/Councils do not.

Finally, the top authority in Masonry is always the Grand Master ofMasons, not some Grand Commander or other personage associated with the“higher” degrees. The Grand Master of Masons can suspend the GeneralGrand High Priest from all the privileges of Masonry; the GGHP has nosuch power. Obviously, there is no global organization in Masonry.


The most bizarre thing about conspiracy theories in general is thatthere is never a clear explanation of what the conspiracy is about, norhow it is carrying out its aims. The alleged Masonic conspiracy storiesconform to this. None of the conspiracy theorists ever explains what itis that the Masons want to do with their supposed power.

Since Masonry’s tenets are brotherly love, relief, and truth, if theMasons did run the world, it might be a better place. Many of theFounding Fathers who wrote the Constitution of the United States wereFreemasons; the principles in that document have stood the test of overtwo centuries. Would a Masonic government be so bad? Look at thegovernments founded by anti-Masonic groups: Nazi Germany, the SovietUnion, Iran under totalitarian religious rule. Where is the realproblem in the world?

Bavarian Illuminati

This group died out in the 18th century. An organization that doesnot exist is a convenient scapegoat! To the conspiracy loony, that thereis no evidence of a group’s existence is “proof” that it is fiendishlyclever in concealing itself. One does not have to be a professor ofphilosophy to see that this kind of logic makes no sense in a search fortruth.

Masonic symbols on the dollar bill

Some commentators have claimed that there are Masonic symbols on theUS $1 bill, and that they were put there by the Masonic president,Franklin Delano Roosevelt to show that the country had been taken overby Masons.

Well, perhaps the symbols are Masonic, but the material on the dollarbill dates from the late 1700s, not Roosevelt’s term. The two circledobjects on the back of the bill are the two sides of the Great Seal ofthe United States. It is said that Ben Franklin, a Mason, had someinfluence in the design.

What are these Masonic symbols? The representation of an eye and anunfinished pyramid. The All-Seeing Eye of Deity is certainly mentionedin Freemasonry, but that concept dates back to the Bible, at least. Anunfinished pyramid symbolizes that the work of nation building is notcompleted, but the pyramid is not a particularly Masonic symbol; anyunfinished building would have done. (Some say that there is an owl inthe engravings in one corner of the bill, but that is a product of anoveractive imagination. The owl is also not a Masonic symbol; the onlybirds that come to mind in any of the degrees are the pelican in the18th degree [a symbol of Jesus, incidentally], the mythical phoenix, andthe eagle. And those are found only in the Scottish Rite, so they arenot characteristic of Masonry as a whole.

New World Order

Ever since George Bush (not a Freemason) publicized this term, it hasbeen an obsession of certain groups. They point to the wording on thedollar bill (see above), which reads “novus ordo seclorum.”Unfortunately, as someone once said, “Th[eir] Latin waxeth rusty.” Thephrase on the bill means “a new order of the ages,” and refers to thecompletely novel (and still unique) form of American government, arepublic of separated powers, composed of a federal union of states, inwhich the central government is granted powers by the people, whoserights are supreme over the institutions of government. If the termwere to mean “new world order,” the third word would have to be“sæculorum” instead.

The Kennedy Assassination (and others)

Much has been made of the facts that many members of the WarrenCommission were Freemasons. Supposedly, this allowed them to “cover up”the “evidence” that the Freemasons had Kennedy assassinated. Of course,there is no explanation of how the Freemasons might have benefited fromKennedy’s death or what other motivation they might have had for such aplot. For most of the history of the American Republic, about one-thirdof American officeholders–presidents, senators, judges, congressmen,local officials–have been Freemasons. It is hardly surprising that agroup such as the Warren Commission would have been about 1/3Freemasons.

As for other sensational assassinations, there is the same questionto be asked: How could the Freemasons have benefited from this act? Asthere is never a sensible answer, the allegations are clearly laughable.

Since the Freemasons have been around for nearly 300 years and haveheld many responsible positions in the American government, as well asin other countries around the world, particularly the English-speakingones, if there were any such conspiracy, it would have long sincesucceeded in its aims. As the concept is the product of overwroughtimaginations, the total lack of evidence or purpose for any suchconspiracy must lead us to dismiss it as nonsense.

You said that Masonry was not a religion and had no priests, but youjust mentioned a Grand High Priest–what gives?

At the time of the return from the Babylonian exile, some of thelegendary events of which are commemorated by the Royal Arch Degree,Jeshua, Zerubbabel, and Haggai were the High Priest, King, and Scribeamong the Israelites. The important roles played by these individualsled to their positions being used to designate the three principalofficers of the Royal Arch Chapter. The title “High Priest” is used bythe presiding officer of a Royal Arch Chapter in the United States ofAmerica. In other countries, the title King is assigned to thepresiding officer, and the High Priest is a subordinate officer;anti-monarchist sentiment in the US at the time the Royal Arch degreeswere becoming established in America (late 1700s) led to the primaryrole being assigned to the High Priest, which was also consonant withthe American notion of the state being subordinate to the Deity. Insome foreign jurisdictions, the designations of the first three officersare simply First, Second, and Third Principal, with no reference to thehistorical roles of the individuals commemorated in the degreeceremonies.

The High Priest of a Royal Arch Chapter (and likewise the Grand HighPriest of a Grand Chapter and the General Grand High Priest of theGeneral Grand Chapter) performs no sacerdotal functions; his office isthe equivalent of those of Worshipful Master of a Lodge, IllustriousMaster of a Council, Eminent Commander of a Commandery, and so on. Likeall Masonic bodies, a Royal Arch Chapter has a Chaplain (in ScottishRite Masonry, the office is termed “Prelate”) who is responsible foroffering prayer at the opening of a meeting. The Excellent High Priestis responsible for administration of his Chapter’s business and conduct of its ritual.

Though it has Commanders, Masonry has no army; though it has officerstitled “High Priest,” Masonry is not a religion. The High Priest is nota priest, paradoxical as that may sound; he is a chairman or presidentin fact, if not in name.

Why do Masons want to hoodwink people?

This is a misunderstanding arising from the use of archaic languagein Masonry when modern meanings are different from what they were acouple of centuries ago. (E.g., “let” used to mean “hinder”–which itstill does in tennis, but for most usages, it means the exact opposite:to allow or permit.)

“Hoodwink” comes from two words, “hood” (meaning to cover, when usedas a verb) and “wink” (an archaic term for the eye). Thus, “tohoodwink” means to cover the eyes, originally. At the time when thisword was adopted by Freemasonry (the early 18th century or before), thiswas its primary meaning.

Since that time, it has come to be synonymous with the phrase “pullthe wool over the eyes,” which is to say “to deceive.” The word,however, is just as often used as a noun in Masonry as a verb, and whenused as a verb is accompanied by the action of using a blindfold (themodern term for a hoodwink), making its meaning clear at the time.

The word “hoodwink” has only one meaning in a Masonic context, andthat is “blindfold.” It is only anti-Masons who hope to deceive others(should I have said “hoodwink others?”) who claim, dishonestly, thatMasons use the term “hoodwink” with the meaning of “deception.”

Why do Masons insult non-Masons as being profane?

Again, this is a misunderstanding over the use of archaic language.The word “profane” comes from two Latin words, “pro,” meaning “before,”and “fanum,” meaning “temple.” In earlier usage, “profane” had a moreliteral meaning of “outside the temple.” It was simply an antonym forthe term “sacred,” just as “secular” still is. (Classical music loverswill note, for example, the Debussy work, “Danses sacrees et profanes,”as a use of the same word in French with this meaning.)

In more recent usage, dating from well after the language of Masonrybecame fixed, the term “profane” was most often coupled with the term“language,” to denote speech which would not have been uttered inside atemple or other sacred precincts. Gradually, this became the mostcommon application of “profane” and, in the popular mind, became itsonly meaning. “Profane” became a synonym for swearing, cursing, andblasphemy, all of which are now called “profanity.”

But when a Mason refers to “profanes” or the “profane” world, hemeans only those who are not initiated into Masonry and thus must remain“outside the temple.” Nothing more; no insult is intended.

by Roger Firestonehttp://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/Questions/difficult.html


Difficult Questions About Freemasonry | Freemasonry Matters (2024)
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