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 and sectarian discussion is forbidden in Lodge rooms. Masons meet in a spirit of toleration and brotherhood.
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 nonsectarian titles, to address 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. It strongly encourages each man to be active in his own church, synagogue or house of worship. It expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his duty to God above all other duties. Freemasonry’s moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.
Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion. It has no dogma or theology, no wish or means to enforce religious orthodoxy and it offers no sacraments. Freemasonry 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.
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 to a Christian is the Bible; to Freemasons of other faiths it is the book held holy by them. 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.
Many outstanding religious leaders are and have been Masons–including the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, Bishops of the Methodist Church, Episcopal Bishops and Archbishops, Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, Rabbis and leaders of all the world’s great religions. Masons are members of numerous denominations representing many faiths–including many thousands of Roman Catholic Masons in the United States and around the world.
Our thanks to the Grand Lodge of Missouri for this text.