Freemasonry- Politics and Religion
Freemasonry, as an organization, is not political nor is it a religion. Freemasonry is often described in the following terms: "A peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated with symbols". The use of these words, quaint and antiquated as they may be, reveals something of the nature of Freemasonry - it is something that has remained unchanged, in its essential elements, for centuries. This unchanging nature, in an ever changing world, means that quaint words, old meanings etc. are no longer easily understood by people who are not members of the Craft. If Freemasons use words and phrases which hold to their original meaning then it is fair to assume that this can lead to misunderstandings by those who are not members. Such interpretations are based on their own life experience and not on the actual Masonic usage, and meaning, of such words and phrases. For some small insight to the origins, and history, of Freemasonry please refer to the page The Origins of Freemasonry
. Old writings are quite often open to a variety of interpretations increasing in number the older the documents. The Bible, the Koran and the Talmud have been, and continue to be, interpreted in different ways by numerous scholars which has given rise to more than one form of Christian, Muslim or Jewish faith.
So what does this have to do with politics and religion? Masonic Lodges are a place where the Brotherhood of Man is practiced. To achieve that aim it was realized that politics could play no part in Freemasonry. If one wishes to pursue a political goal then there are numerous organizations and parties, which provide for that purpose. Freemasonry has no political agenda and all regular Grand Lodges will make NO comment on, nor participate in, any activity, which might be construed as being in any way political. Despite the avowed apolitical nature of Freemasonry detractors have frequently attempted to link Freemasonry with events for which an obvious explanation is unavailable. In essence this is the old chestnut of the 'Conspiracy Theory'. Freemasonry has been blamed for everything from the assassination of President J. F. Kennedy, the rise of Stalin, to the death of Princess Diana! It must be remembered, however, that Freemasonry has been the subject of political persecution. Hitler had a special section within the Gestapo for the identification, torture, and elimination of Freemasons. Stalin too ensured that known Freemasons were executed. There are recorded instances of members who were Prisoners of War being sought out by the Japanese Imperial Army, tortured and executed. It seems that wherever political extremes exist Freemasonry is persecuted. Could this be because it teaches a simple message - The Brotherhood of Man?
Religion, of whatever variety, teaches its adherents a particular spirituality, a particular method of salvation, a particular way of being a good member of that religion. Freemasonry makes no such presumption. It certainly encourages members to follow the teachings of each individual's faith but does not, and will not, make any assumptions as to a particular faith, creed or sect. Masonic teaching states that members must first look after family, faith, livelihood and then, and only then, any Masonic commitments. This stance has meant that Freemasonry has been left open to criticism that it is neither 'one thing or another' on matters of religion.
Criticism from religious organizations is nothing new regarding Freemasonry. The earliest recorded investigation, by a church, occurred as long ago as 1652. One, James Ainslie, had applied to become Minister of the Presbytery in
Minto, Roxburghshire. It was discovered that Ainslie was in possession of the 'Mason Word' and the neighbouring Presbytery of Kelso was asked to investigate if: "Mr James Ainslie having the maissounes word" would prejudice his appointment. The Presbytery of Kelso replied, in writing, on 24th February (1652) in the following terms:
"anent a young mans having the maison word whither he myt be admitted to the ministrie:
Mr James Ainslie was duly admitted to the parish ministry of Minto later that year.
That to their judgement ther is neither sinne nor scandale in that word because in the purest tymes of this kirke maisons having that word have been ministers, that maisons and men having that word have been and daylie are elders in our sessions, and many professors having that word are daylie admitted to the ordinances".
It is clear that in the 'purest tymes' there was nothing inconsistent with being a Minister of the Gospel and a Freemason. Churches and religious organisations have changed their stance since 1652; Freemasonry has not. The large number of very special men who have been Freemasons must pose a question in the minds of the detractors of Freemasonry. For every one of those 'special men' there are thousands of 'ordinary' men who found, and continue to find, an attraction in Freemasonry not to be found elsewhere. A very small sample of such special men is to be found under the page:
Famous Scottish Freemasons.
There can be no doubt that in past times, often violent and turbulent, men could attend a Lodge where no one was interested in an individual's politics, religion or social status. Today this is still the case. If a member of the Craft persists in discussing religious or political matters he will be expelled. In one way this is the essence of Freemasonry - somewhere a man can go where he can mix with other men of different political and religious ideals - without being challenged. In modern words: "A place to escape the 'rat race', a place to feel at ease, a place where everyone is equal, a place where The Brotherhood of Man is put into Practice".
Grand Lodge of Antient Free and
Accepted Masons of Scotland
(G.L.O.S.) All rights reserved.
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