The following is adapted from the Grand Lodge of British Columbia’s explanation of Freemasonry and Religion…
A man does not subscribe to a new religion, much less to an anti-Christian religion when he becomes a freemason, any more than when he joins any political party or community association. There is nothing in Freemasonry that is opposed to the religion he brings with him into the masonic lodge. Freemasonry does not assert nor does it teach that one religion is as good as another. Freemasonry admits men of all religions. Freemasons believe in religious freedom and that the relationship between the individual and his God is personal, private and sacred.
- Freemasonry advocates no sectarian faith or practice.
- We seek no converts.
- We solicit no new members.
- We raise no money for religious purposes.
- We have no dogma or theology. Religious discussion is forbidden in a masonic lodge thereby eliminating the chance for any masonic dogma to form.
- It offers no sacraments and does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge, or by any other means. The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with the modes of recognition only and not with the means of salvation.
- By any definition of religion accepted by our critics, we cannot qualify as a religion.
- Freemasonry supports religion. Freemasonry is far from indifferent to religion. Without interfering in religious practise, it expects each member to follow his own faith.
Freemasonry is a completely tolerant organization. When Freemasonry accepts a Christian, or a Jew, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim, it does not accept him as such, but accepts him as a man, worthy to be received into the masonic fraternity.We do not apply a theological test to a candidate. We do ask a man if he believes in God and that is the only religious test. Belief in God is faith; belief about God is theology. As freemasons we are interested in faith only and not in theology. Religion is not permitted to be discussed at masonic meetings.
Freemasonry stands for the values that are supreme in the life of the church and expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his duty to God above all other duties. We are sure that a member who is true to the principles he learns in Freemasonry will be a better church member because of it.
The Masonic Information Center has put together the following to further understand the correlation and differences between the masonic fraternity and organized religion.
Basic Principles. Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual’s dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings.
The Supreme Being. Masons believe that there is one God and that people employ many different ways to seek, and to express what they know of God. Masonry primarily uses the appellation, “Grand Architect of the Universe,” and other non-sectarian titles, to address the Deity. In this way, persons of different faiths may join together in prayer, concentrating on God, rather than differences among themselves. Masonry believes in religious freedom and that the relationship between the individual and God is personal, private, and sacred.
Volume of the Sacred Law. An open volume of the Sacred Law, “the rule and guide of life,” is an essential part of every Masonic meeting. The Volume of the Sacred Law in the Judeo/Christian tradition is the Bible; to Freemasons of other faiths, it is the book held holy by them.
The Oath of Freemasonry. The obligations taken by Freemasons are sworn on the Volume of the Sacred Law. They are undertakings to follow the principles of Freemasonry and to keep confidential a Freemason’s means of recognition. The much discussed “penalties,” judicial remnants from an earlier era, are symbolic, not literal. They refer only to the pain any honest man should feel at the thought of violating his word.
Freemasonry Compared with Religion. Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion: (a) It has no dogma or theology, no wish or means to enforce religious orthodoxy. (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, not with the means of salvation.
Freemasonry Supports Religion. Freemasonry is far from indifferent toward religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his Duty to God above all other duties. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.