Before continuing on, it is essential that a term be defined in as much as it can be defined. That term is the word “religion.” The really sad part of trying to define religion is that virtually everyone’s definition of what “religion” is, fails. Hence, this has to be approached from a strictly Scriptural point of view, with the attendant explanation of why men have not been able to define “religion.” Last of all, for the question that must be addressed concerning Freemasonry and its relationship to religion (whether it is a religion, or merely a very good friend to it) is: Can a religion include different or diverse religions in its particulars and still be a religion in its own right?

In Scripture, the statement is made:

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:26-27)

The rest of the references made to religion in the Scripture only refer to someone’s religion, but describe nothing about what religion is. However, it is indisputable that an integral and primary part of religion is worship, and that that worship has certain confines, or restrictions placed upon it, whether narrow or broad. The Scripture does discuss worship, and even defines it for us. One of the first instances where worship is clearly defined is the instance where Abraham’s servant went to find a wife for Isaac. Upon having his request granted by the LORD God, Abraham’s servant did the following:

And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren. (Genesis 24:26-27)

Thus, the simple act of prayer is worship, and is a primary element of religion. The second thing we can note about religion is that it self-evidently has a defined set of beliefs, irrespective of whether those beliefs are logical, sensible, reasonable, or even beneficial. The defining aspect of those beliefs relate specifically to the spiritual, its existence, or non-existence, and thus the existence of any spiritual higher power. However broad one may think this definition is, it nonetheless is necessary as one can even make a religion out of such a mundane thing as cutting the grass.

Moreover, religion also has the elements of rite and ritual in some degree. The rites and rituals of a religion may only be a single thing, simplistic in its form, or it may a multitude of things, and very complicated in form. In some instances rites and rituals are used as a means of justification before the higher power(s) of that religion. In others, the rituals and rites are simply a means of illustration of certain truths that the adherents of that religion are to be reinforced in as often as they are performed. The latter was the case throughout the Old Testament as illustrated in the following passage:

Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (I Chronicles 16:28-29)

The bringing of an offering before the LORD was a picture of Christ to come, and was a teaching that the LORD God wanted illustrated continually. Failure to do so was indicative that one did not follow the LORD, but was bent upon their own way. In case it is not understood that the sacrifices and offerings were not efficacious for salvation the Scripture does provide the following as proof:

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:1-10)

And from the Old Testament:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. (Jeremiah 7:21-23)

Hence, though rituals and rites were a part of the worship in ancient Israel, they were not necessary for salvation. In contrast, in the Catholic Church the ritual of Mass is necessary for the salvation they promise. By this contrast, we can see the varied purpose of rites and rituals and the fact that it is not necessary for a rite or ritual be specifically meant for salvation for it to be an essential part of whatsoever religion that incorporates it. In short, a religion may promise some sort of salvation or justification (and most do), but some of the elements of that religion may not be expressly necessary for the promised salvation to be effected.

So we now see that prayer, a defined set of beliefs (particularly relating to the spiritual), and some rites and/or rituals are all parts of what define a religion. We could say at this point that any system that incorporates these specific elements is a religion. However, for the purposes of this discussion relating to Freemasonry, there is a necessity to answer a final question:

Can a religion incorporate other religions, and still be a religion in its own right?

To say the least it is an interesting question. However, it does have an answer, and that answer is more obvious than most would care to admit. For the answer we must turn to two different systems of belief: Unitarian Universalism, and non-secular Humanism.

I will begin with Unitarian Universalism and its answers to questions that are commonly raised.

Does the UUA have a creed?
No. Although the bylaws of the association do contain a section on purposes and principles, it is not a statement of a religious creed.

Do you subscribe to any doctrines?
We have no specific doctrines to which members are expected to subscribe. However, the bylaws of the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) and member churches and societies do contain a Statement of Purpose and Principles (see page 18). These are the basis of a solemn agreement that member churches will support the UUA and that the UUA will support the individual churches.

What do you NOT believe?
We do not believe that any religious precept or doctrine must be accepted as true simply because some religious organization, tradition or authority says it is. Neither do we believe that all UUs should have identical beliefs.

Do some UUs have different beliefs than other UUs?
They certainly do. Since individual freedom of belief is one of our basic principles, it follows that there will be differing beliefs among us. Found in today’s churches are humanism, agnosticism, atheism, theism, liberal Christianity, neo-paganism and earth spiritualism. These beliefs are not mutually exclusive–it’s possible to hold more than one. While we are bound by a set of common principles, we leave it to the individual to decide what particular beliefs lead to those principles.

Do you believe in God?
We do not have a defined doctrine of God. Members are free to develop individual concepts of God that are meaningful to them. They are also free to reject the term and concept altogether.

Most of us do not believe in a supernatural, supreme being who can directly intervene in and alter human life or the mechanism of the natural world. Many believe in a spirit of life or a power within themselves, which some choose to call God.

What are the bonds that unify UUs?
While there are no written or verbal doctrines designed for that purpose, we have both stated and unstated bonds which unify us. The stated bonds are the Principles and Purposes of the UUA which we support individually and collectively.

Among the unstated bonds are our mutual respect for each other and our appreciation of the many religious, philosophical and spiritual paths which our members pursue. We are bound together in our mutual concern for one another’s well being, and our willingness to aid each other in time of need.1

To be continued . . .

Engaging Freemasonry — Pt. IV
  1. UU Church of Nashua, NH., 100 Questions: Chapter 1 – Beliefs, Creeds and Doctrines []
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8 thoughts on “Engaging Freemasonry — Pt. IV

  • 10 Sep 2008 at 16:43

    Some things to note:

    Anti-Masons often try to “prove” that Freemasonry is a religion – and then, on that basis, condemn it as being a ‘false religion’. Masons know full well that Freemasonry is no more a religion than is golf, Scouting, or the U. S. Navy League. The arguments raised, though, may leave those unfamiliar with Masonry questioning.

    Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members 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.

    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 specifies no particular religious belief but encourages its members to follow the beliefs of their own religion, prayers in lodge may refer to the Grand Architect of the Universe. Members are free to mentally insert the name they wish in its stead. Certain religious extremists argue that any prayer not offered in the name of Jesus is somehow invalid, ignoring the fact that then Jesus’ own prayers would have been so. We do not discuss individual’s religious beliefs on this site but merely point out that if a Mason believes that every prayer should be addressed to Jesus, Mary, Allah, or in some other way as represented by his religion, he is free to do so. The Grand Architect of the Universe is God and to claim that Masons somehow worship someone or something else is obfuscation at best and a heinous lie at worst.

    When one examines the commonalities and differences in religions, there is a short list of traits all share but which are unique to none thereby achieving a WORKING model of what religion is. It is important to remember that this involves RELIGION not SPIRITUALITY, which for the most part, is a trait of being human.
    – A group of people who by means of culture, propinquity and common beliefs come together in a recognized group.
    – A profession of belief in a higher existence and/or being.
    – Group action which encases their belief system in symbolism and ritual.
    – Through the self-definitions of the above, the group proceeds in a “we-they” quasi political (encased in mysticism and/or spirituality) manner to promote and maintain their organization.

    It can reasonably be argued that all of these are true of Masonry. Similarly, however, they are also true of organizations like Scouting, Campfire, Alcoholics Anonymous and The U. S. Navy League – to name but a few.

    So on the basis of this non-partisan, sociological model, Freemasonry more than fits and for these reasons, some could find it hard to see why Masonry is, in fact, NOT a religion.

    However, when we look at what religion does, there is an entirely different picture.

    Religions do the following (though details vary from one to the next):
    – Practice sacerdotal functions – Masonry does NOT!
    – Teach Theology – Masonry does NOT!
    – Ordain Clergy – Masonry does NOT!
    – Define sin and salvation – Masonry does NOT!
    – Perform sacraments – Masonry does NOT!
    – Publish or specify a Holy Book – Masonry does NOT!
    – Describe or define the Deity – Masonry does NOT!

  • 10 Sep 2008 at 17:30

    It’s also interesting to note that King James himself – you know “KJV” – was a Freemason himself establishing Lodges during his time.

    Check it out yourself – check out the book the Hiram Key.

  • 10 Sep 2008 at 23:01


    Surely you don’t actually believe what passes for “history” in that book do you? After, the following link demonstrates that quite a number of Freemasons don’t even accept the suppositions put forth in that book:
    The Hiram Key, a few observations

    Not only that, a supposed “Christian” ministry has a quote provided from the book which states “James was initiated into Freemasonry, into the Lodge of Scoon and Perth in 1601, at the age of 35.” The KJV – A Freemason Bible

    Of course, the whole reason they include the article is to attack the KJV and the king who authorized its translation. You know, King James the VI & I didn’t translate the KJV, he merely authorized it.

    By the way, the header picture of this blog — that happens to be a (very) few of the books I own, and those books are on my desk. Maybe you ought to actually look at the titles. While you are at it, you could also read a bit more history of the Baptistic churches that were never under the RCC. The book “Martyrs Mirror” by Thieleman J. van Braght is a good place to start, along with the two Baptist history books shown in the header picture: “A History of the Baptists” by John T. Christian, and “Baptist Church Perpetuity” by W.A. Jarrel.

    You know, I have read somewhat about King James the VI & I and I never ran across any mention of him being involved in Freemasonry. Of course, I tend to believe that charge is bunk since no one else even mentions King James and Freemasonry in the same sentence — just this one book, written by two wannabe historians.

    If you are going to make an argument, please come up with something more valid.

  • 10 Sep 2008 at 23:28

    Congrats on being very condescending on that last remark… Perhaps not being so judgmental might help realize that not every response is considered an argument but merely pointing something out. I know those who want to put everyone else down that believes differently loves to “Argue” and claim their word is concrete, never wrong… Typical…

    You claim those two are wannabe historians, but ever bother to look at what they reference, the sources they use to make such claims?

    Also, a nice historian and professor made a similar reference in the Magus of Freemasonry, a book about Elias Ashmole.

    By the way, those aren’t arguments, hate to disappoint, judgmental one…just observations. I know how the wanna be Apologists love to toss aside others references to avoid being wrong about something, so…enjoy…

    Finally, nice job overlooking all other responses to continue down the road of putting down a good organization. What’s next, Boy Scouts of America? The Veterans Association? Or follow the path of your role models and attack video and board games along with Harry Potter?

  • 10 Sep 2008 at 23:36

    I recommend John Shore’s “I’m OK — You’re not!”
    After all, the whole self righteous holier than thou attitude you got going is so typical among so many it’s no wonder so many are leaving church…you guys keep running people off…

    And trying to make good organizations look bad, ones that help so many, is not helping. Try to consider others besides feeding your egos and sitting on your self righteous thrones for a change. You want to be a real Christian, try doing more than just putting people down.

  • 11 Sep 2008 at 00:19


    Perhaps you ought to look in the mirror. You ought to read the tone of your comments before you throw stones. From your first comment, you were utterly sarcastic. There is simply no other way to describe this kind of comment other than sarcastic and condescending:

    “Nice article, very uninformative. However you have a good introduction, but forgive me if I’m a little skeptical to the story. You see, there are a lot of “Internet Tabloids”. In fact, I read one where the cartoon network is trying to take over the children, the Illuminati is brainwashing our children. That was from someone who began the tabloid with the fact they saw a low flying UFO. Apparently ET is a Mason…”

    And that wasn’t the end of your sarcasm. No, instead the entire comment reads that way from beginning to end.

    And Freemasonry made you a better person?
    And you read the Bible?
    No, what I see here is a hateful person that Fred Phelps has nothing on.

    You can count the number of statements I have made, that could be construed as condescending, or disrespectful on the fingers of one hand.

    No Rebel, you’re not being just a little hypocritical.

    As far as your other comments, since I am the owner of this blog and of the website Reproach of Men, it is my right to deal with issues as I see fit, and not when someone who posts hateful comments demands it.

    I certainly will address your assertions about Freemasonry and religion. But I will do it on my schedule and not yours.

  • 11 Sep 2008 at 00:57

    Bravo! You sure told me… Feel better now. Do try to comprehend what you read. You might do a better job at interpreting scripture…

    You see, I stated upfront, even apologized for being skeptical and tried to make a point. I expected more like actually comprehending it… There’s a lot that love to put down actual Christians, good people, that do good deeds that many look to for help. Unlike you, they don’t judge, they are not arrogant, but don’t expect Mr. Nice guy when you put them down and say what they do is meaningless. Try telling that to the millions they helped.

    And I ask, what have you done, Mr. Self Righteous?
    You taken care of needy children, stood at fallen soldier’s funeral blocking the Phelps family from protesting it, spent time with helping those who need it, volunteered to help the Red Cross, various community churches, or just ran your little precious website?

    How about writing an article in your precious time about how it takes more to be a Christian than just writing about how wrong others are in your biased ignorant opinionated views.

    Read the Bible? Buddy, I do more than just read it. Have you read any science books? How about psychology? You offend someone, don’t expect them to be nice… Get a clue, genius.

    Also, unlike you, Judgmental One, I never claimed I wasn’t a hypocrite… But good job showing the your true colors of intolerance. Just like good ole Haggard the infamous evangelist, talk the talk but in the end, well…just another poser.

    And by the way, Masonry never claimed to make a person better. You really shouldn’t put down something when you have no clue what it is about. It’s been so obvious that you are completely ignorant on the organization and its history. I’m sure knowing that it burns you up inside…

    And I just love the way you chimed in only when I disagreed but never when I agreed. You must have been ready to storm in when any disagreed with your views. And when some called out your error, boy talk about ticked. What a shame… Someone needs anger management…

    Anyway, you were wrong about KJ… He was a Freemason. I’d say do the research but I know you won’t:

    On the west wall of the lodge hall used by Lodge Scoon and Perth No. 3 in Perth, Scotland can be found a mural depicting James VI kneeling at their altar at his initiation. The oldest existing record of the Lodge, called “The Mutual Agreement” of 24 December, 1658, records that James was “entered Freemason and Fellowcraft of the Lodge of Scoon” on 15 April, 1601.

    Source: D. Crawford Smith and William James Hughan, History of the Ancient Masonic Lodge of Scoon and Perth (Number 3, The Lodge of Scone) Perth: Cowan and Company, Limited, 1898. Also see: Year Book of the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland.

    Don’t get too upset…It’s just a BLOG.

  • 11 Sep 2008 at 01:09

    PS. I looked in the mirror and what I saw was a person sad at the fact that there are intolerant people so self righteous and arrogant that they are part of the problem of others leaving the church due to these posers making Christians look so condescending, “Holier than thou”, types.

    Now you go look in the mirror.

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