Is Freemasonry a Religion?


This question has been asked of me by close to half of those who discover that I am a member of our ancient and honorable fraternity, including prospective applicants.

The answer is of course no, freemasonry is not a religion, however it is too simplistic of an answer. To answer it in a more intelligent way I recently checked out Albert Pike’s “Morals and Dogma” from the library at the San Diego Scottish Rite (thank you Bro. Norris), and will share what I gleaned from it here.

Brother Pike consolidated and reworked the Masonic degrees following the blue lodge degrees in the mid 1800s. He is an unimpeachable source and this work contains his opinion on all things Masonic.

I would dare not presume to interpret Pike, and find it unnecessary. The same is true of the ritual. If one does not understand the meaning then one should read it, or if possible, recite it again. There is a conciseness in the work rarely found in literature of any kind.

However to answer this frequently asked question I am going to rearrange this passage in his work as below:

Says Pike, “This is what is asked and answered in our catechism, in regard to the Lodge.”

“A ‘Lodge’ is defined to be ‘an assemblage of Freemasons, duly congregated, having the sacred writings, square, and compass, and a charter, or warrant of constitution, authorizing them to work.'”

“Though Masonry neither usurps the place of, nor apes religion, prayer is an essential part of our ceremonies. It is the aspirations of the soul toward the Absolute and Infinite Intelligence, which is the One Supreme Deity, most feebly and misunderstandingly characterized as an “ARCHITECT.”

He continues, “Certain faculties of man are directed toward the Unknown–thought, meditation, prayer. The unknown is an ocean, of which conscience is the compass. Thought, meditaion, prayer, are the great mysterious pointings of the needle. It is a spiritual magnetism that thus connects the human soul with the Deity. These majestic irradiations of the soul pierce through the shadow toward the light.”

“It is but a shallow scoff to say that prayer is absurd, becouse it is not possible for us, by means of it, to persuade God to change His plans. He produces foreknown and foreintended effects, by the instrumentality of the forces of nature, all of which are His forces. Our own are part of these. Our free agency and our will are forces. We do not absurdly cease to make efforts to attain wealth or happiness, prolong life, and continue health, because we cannot by any effort change what is predestined. If the effort also is predestined, it is not the less of our effort, made of our free will. so, likewise, we pray. Will is a force. Thought is a force. Prayer is a force. Why should it not be of the law of God, that prayer, like Faith and Love, should have its effects?

“Man is not to be comprehended as a starting point, or progress as a goal, without those two great forces, Faith and Love. Prayer is sublime. Orisons that beg and clamor are pitiful. To deny the efficacy of prayer, is to deny that of Faith, Love, and Effort. Yet the effects produced, when our hand, moved by our will, launches a pebble into the ocean, never cease; and every uttered word is registered for eternity upon the invisible air.

“Every Lodge is a Temple, and as a whole, and in its details symbolic. The Universe itself supplied man with the model for the first temples reared to the Divinity. the arrangement of the Temple of Solomon, the symbolic ornaments, which formed its chief decorations, and the dress of the High-Priest, all had reference tothe order of the Universe, as then understood. The Temple contained many emblems of the seasons-the sun, the moon, the planets, the constellations Ursa Major and Minor, the zodiac, the elements, and the other parts of the world. it is the Master of this Lodge, of the Universe, Hermes, of whom Khurum is the represetnative, that is one of the lights of the Lodge.

“For further instruction as to the symbolism of the heavenly bodies, and of the sacred numbers, and of the temple and its details, you must wait patiently until you advance in Masonry, in the mean time exercising your intellect in studying them for yourself. to study and seek to interpret correctly the symbols of the Universe, is the work of the sage and philosopher. It is to decipher the writing of God, and penetrate into His thoughts.”

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