As boys we attended the same church. It was one that had a Freemason as its head in Victoria until less than 20 years ago, one also being a Grand Master.
Every two or three years for over 50 years when I returned to Melbourne after periods interstate or overseas it was so pleasant for us to meet with our wives. One had been a friend since we were together in 2nd Grade, I had met my wife at his home and he had been my Best Man. One of the wives was my wife’s best friend since schooldays. Five of us had become Freemasons quite independently, but only I remain affiliated. Our conversations would re-commence where we had left off. But our recent meetings have become strained. It would be cynical to say that “God had got them” because the problem has resulted from a church that they all now attend together. Their God is not the one I know. Their preacher has persuaded them that Freemasonry is one of the great evils of the world, satanic in nature. You might ask how this churches’ view has changed in the last 20 years? I do.
I have searched the volume of literature on the Internet for an explanation. Every word of the Craft ritual has been perused and invariably subject to adverse criticism. I would not attempt to respond to each comment. However, it seems that these are the main areas of criticism:
· That Freemasonry is a religion and that masons hope to gain salvation by being good people and doing good deeds and not through Jesus (Mohamed, Yahweh etc).
· That masons are sinful by not referring to Jesus by name (referring to the use of the name “Great Architect of the Universe”)
· By accepting the relevance of all religions with a Supreme Being masons are detracting from the only true church (theirs!).
· Taking an obligation is sinful.
· There should be no secrets that cannot be revealed to your Confessor.
Freemasonry has no dogma or sacraments. Nor does it offer salvation. Freemasonry itself says it "is not a religion". I do not know a single Freemason who believes that he will gain salvation by being strictly obedient to its laws. You see Service Chaplains from all churches jointly participating in military services and governments that recognise all churches – are they all sinful too? An oath of office is an obligation and these are taken by Doctors, Ministers of State and members of the Judiciary– are they also sinful? It is in fact an offence to reveal corporate information in certain instances and I would hope no State security secret would be revealed to a Confessor.
But how should one try to explain all this to a zealot, one who is prejudiced or feels some threat from Freemasonry that offers a brotherhood to all good and God believing men? Let us then look at the credibility of some of our accusers who condemn a Fraternity whose sole objective is "brotherly love, relief and truth". Clearly this does not apply to all but we have seen behaviour that cost a Governor General his commission. Some we know would make a Madam blush and sadly too many children cry. Freemasons, elders of a church, have been denied a church funeral but such a service has been given even recently to those who have erred in a way which would offend religious standards. It seems hard to believe that there are principles behind the criticisms, but just prejudice and self interest. Ignore them and suffer some religious isolation.
I have found that in the long run nobody prospers simply by criticizing others. Churches used to be one of the main providers of welfare, education and healthcare and well as providing spiritual nourishment. It is time some focused on these ministries.
Fraternal best wishes to all