Food For Thought
Have you ever read some of the garbage that some people write about Freemasonry. You know the stuff that the Craft is a front for Satanism. That we perform satanic ceremonies, that the eventual aim is to rule the world.
Well if you are a Freemason you will know what a lot of codswallop those claims are. If you're not a Freemason then you may be swayed by ignorance.
If one looks in depth at Freemasonry there is no possibility of it being as the detractors claim. All Freemasons know that a requirement of membership is to believe in a supreme being or entity, and this means that believers in many religions can join. In fact this is one of the strengths of the Craft, it is a place where people can meet from many backgrounds. It is the way a peaceful world should be.
So why do these rumours exist. Well the one regarding Roman Catholics is simple, If you are a priest it is your job to convert non-catholics to Roman Catholism. The Pope has recently clarified that Priests cannot join Freemasonry and do the Church's work. However, Catholics who are not priests can. Freemasonry has many Roman Catholic brethren, and in the 18th and 19th centuries even Priests and bishops were.
Other Christians try to claim that we are anti-Christ as we allow people of non-christian religions to be members of the Craft. Since 1723 when the freeing Freemasonry from the religion of the country the Lodge was in. The Craft led Society in forwarding the concept that competency and ability were of the essence, not religion.
So why do others claim the Satanic link so vociferously. I find it difficult to form any other opinion than that they are satanists themselves trying to claim the advances and humanitarian work that Freemasons have done.
First of all they claim that ex Freemasons have told them so, that it is anti Christian etc. etc. Well they have made acquaintance with liars, for those people have broken their word, given in a solemn obligation they took when entering the Craft, to maintain the secrets of Freemasonry. At the best those people who have not understood the universality of Freemasonry, that good men are good men no matter what their faith is.
Well when I was initiated I obliged myself not to reveal any of the secrets of Freemasonry. These secrets have been clearly defined in New Zealand to be “the methods of recognition”. Without these we cannot enter a Lodge. This is based on the ancients' way of ensuring that masons trained to certain levels could enter lodges working at those levels. It was established in times when paper did not exist, It was the method used for quality control for centuries. We are an organisation which does not need to print membership cards.
Yes, we have those type of secrets, but so does everyone who owns a credit card - they do not share their pin number, nor does the treasurer of the bank manager reveal the combination of the safe, etc. etc. To my mind only people up to no good would suggest one reveal them. It is strictly my opinion.
That opinion is further re-inforced by the fact that they use, or claim to use, information which has been provided to them by people who have not kept their word. It is getting more common that one's word means less and less these days, but it is something that a true Freemason would rather die than break. And that is perhaps another difference, that provides a reason why the individual either understands Freemasonry or does not, that he cannot understand a commitment to his fellow human beings.
Some people say we are very secretive of our ceremonies. I say no more so than responsible Rugby supporters who have watched a match live, and are asked not to give the result to those that are awaiting the replay. One of the greatest joys in Freemasonry is the surprise of hearing the charges and the context in which they are given. Without knowing the ceremonial it comes as a surprise. It is an aspect I believe those poor souls who broke their obligation did not get near to understanding.
Then there is the wish of others who may be Satanists to claim the advances that Freemasons have given to the world. I cannot get out of my head that it is a great idea to label these great men Satanists to strengthen that devilish cause.
In this issue of Food for Thought I have featured two Famous Freemasons -
firstly James Young Simpson, who was not only a very ardent Christian, a member of the Scottish Free Church, but who benefited at least half the world's population in less painful childbirth, and all of us in less painful surgery. Obviously to normal people he was not satanic.
And secondly Benjamin Mounfort who was the architect of many New Zealand Churches, both Anglican and Roman Catholic, as well as being a devout Anglican. Another nail in the coffin of this supposed Satanic claim for Freemasonry.
These two great men epitomise the humanitarian nature of people who were Freemasons, but just a look at those featured in this website, and others, will illustrate the huge benefit to mankind that Freemasons have contributed. It is the exact opposite from what we non Satanists would consider from Satanism.
It is more than a little relevant to conclude that among the myriad of religious masons there are two Archibishops of Canterbury who have been Freemasons, that at least one Chief Rabbi of the UK, a very famous French Roman Catholic Bishop, and several Moslems. The list does not just stop at those which might come under the canopy of the Holy Book, but prominent Buddhists, Hindus, Druze etc. have also been Freemasons.
It is therefore right that if we defend the secular nature of Freemasonry, and what we might consider as slander against the Craft.
Indeed one masonic site received this e-mail. (Source: http://www.masonicinfo.com/satanism.htm)
"Many 'antimasons' claim masonry has something or a lot to do with lucifer and satanisam, and many organisations which endorse satanistic teachings often mention freemasonry in their texts (e.g. OTO ). I see you have made an effort to prove that these allegations are not true but I think that it has to be said very clearly that MASONS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SATANISTS, as not saying it clearly may seem like trying to hide something."
The site began their reply with
“Wise. A VERY wise young person!”
and ended with
“So let's make it clear right here and now: Freemasonry has nothing - absolutely nothing - to do with Satan, or anything else of that nature.”
Enough said! Well not quite. It is right that the reader should be aware of how the New Zealand Grand Lodge defines its "Aims and Objects"
Freemasonry is unique. It cannot be likened to any other society in that it offers experiences and satisfaction not found elsewhere.
One of its unique features is that NO MAN IS EVER INVITED TO BECOME A MEMBER.
For that reason, it is sometimes difficult for an interested person to discover much about the institution, often referred to as the Craft.
This information paper has been prepared by the Grand Lodge of New Zealand to give prospective members basic information about the nature and activities of this ancient and honourable institution. It is also for the use and guidance of members in giving encouragement to those known to be sympathetic to its aims and objectives and who could be unaware that they have to take the initiative if they wish to join the Craft.
Any person with an interest in Freemasonry will, from reading this, obtain a useful appreciation of what it stands for in practical terms and the men who are its members.
To promote the brotherhood of the human family under the Fatherhood of God.
To render practical help to the less fortunate.
To demonstrate through the behaviour of its members how Masonic teachings add new dimensions to the enjoyment of everyday life.
Freemasonry is a Way of Life
Freemasonry embraces many important principles which it encourages its members to adopt as a way of life. Its ethical teachings dwell on our duties to God, to our country, to our neighbours and to ourselves. They encourage the practice and maintenance of high moral standards and ethical conduct at all times.
As a consequence Freemasonry has attracted to its ranks men of goodwill and charity to comprise a worldwide society of some six million men.
This voluntary association is open to men in good standing of every race, colour and creed who wish to embrace its principles. Once admitted men meet as equals within a Lodge. There they can enjoy the company of like minded men, united in their common interest of promoting human welfare and happiness and in absorbing the lessons of the Craft in self discipline, fortitude, justice and charity.
Around the world men of most religious faiths have become Freemasons because by the very nature of its aims and objectives the principles it espouses are compatible with the teachings of the recognised world religions.
Freemasonry itself is NOT a religion and makes no pretence to be one.
It recognises the importance of belief in a Supreme Being, however designated. All its members are required to hold that belief and proper recognition is given to it within Lodge rooms and in the course of the ceremonies, which are in themselves a time honoured form of instruction.
In New Zealand this requires the Holy Bible to hold a dominant position in all ceremonies.
Where appropriate it may be accompanied by other sacred writings relevant to a Brother's particular belief.
The origins of Freemasonry date back many centuries to the stonemasons who built the great cathedrals of Europe in the Middle Ages and even beyond. Their working tools and the structure of their exclusive society of those days are still used symbolically in Freemason's Lodges and in the structure of the Craft. The actual practices and procedures observed worldwide were formalised with the establishment of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1717 and have not been extensively altered.
The first Lodges in New Zealand were formed by the early settlers in the 1840's and Freemasonry in this country operated under the various Grand Lodges (or Constitutions) of Great Britain until the Grand Lodge of New Zealand was established in 1890. Most of them then transferred to the New Zealand Body.
Freemasonry is not a secret society. It does nothing to conceal its existence or its activities. Its so called secrets are details of private ceremonies designed to progressively instruct new members and impress on their minds the lessons the Craft has to offer including the virtue of self discipline. A progression through three stages (or Degrees) is necessary to obtain full membership and the detailed knowledge of them is restricted to those who qualify.
These ceremonies are solemn, intentionally impressive and are conducted with dignity and decorum. They are held in the highest esteem by members but their form is of no importance to those not belonging to the Craft.
Knowledge of them does have an incidental advantage to Freemasons in that it helps them recognise each other and their progression through to full membership.
Loyalty to one's country is an essential qualification for membership. Additionally members are expected to obey every lawful authority, obey the laws of the country they live in and promote its general welfare.
In no way do these requirements interfere with a member's civil rights to protest and seek legislative changes by lawful means.
Freemasonry is a Commitment to Charitable Works
New Zealand Freemasons provide charity in many ways as individuals, as Lodges, through district projects, various Masonic Trusts and Associations and through the Grand Lodge Fund of Benevolence.
This has made possible the commitment of substantial assets to community welfare that include a hospital and homes for the aged, a Chair of Geriatrics at the Auckland School of Medicine and annual Fellowships in Paediatrics and Child Health.
For those in need the Grand Lodge Fund of Benevolence, which is funded by members for the purpose, provides a range of assistance ranging from emergency grants to annuities and educational bursaries. This represents an outlay in any one year of hundreds of thousands of dollars and is applied to benefit both those with Masonic connections and those without.
For Freemasons charity in its widest sense is an essential feature of their way of life but it is not to be inferred that the Craft operates as a benefit society.
There is a commitment of time.
Lodge meetings are held monthly on fixed dates, usually over eleven months in the year. A regular attendance is expected. This is regarded as a minimum commitment by members.
Advancement through the offices of the Craft, involvement in charitable works and participation with one's family in Lodge social gatherings will add to the time spent on Masonic matters.
While the fullest possible participation is encouraged and adds to the enjoyment of the Craft, a member's discretion in the matter is respected.
There is a financial commitment.
A joining fee is payable to a member's Lodge and thereafter an annual subscription is required to meet administrative costs. In addition calls are made on his charity to support the Grand Lodge Fund of Benevolence and for other purposes.
The extent of charitable giving is a private manner, each member contributing according to his conscience and his personal means.
The financial cost of actively participating in Masonry is not high relative to the cost of many other pursuits.
There is a commitment to a way of life.
Members are expected to practice in their everyday pursuits the teachings of the Craft and thereby earn the trust and respect of others.
Freemasonry respects the rights of its members to hold their own individual religious and political beliefs but these are not permitted to emerge at Masonic gatherings and possibly lead to dissension.
The Craft itself is not involved in either religion or politics.
The great majority of Freemason's Lodges in this country operate under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand. There are still some that maintain allegiance to either the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Scotland or the Grand Lodge of Ireland.
All active Freemasons in New Zealand are required to be members of a Craft Lodge.
Some progress to other Masonic Orders. It is not obligatory to seek that progression, many do not do so.
There are some 400 Lodges under the New Zealand Constitution throughout the country. It is generally recommended that membership be sought of a Lodge where there will be found the greatest `community of interest' and the opportunity to enjoy the companionship of people at a social level.
This social aspect is important because Lodge membership provides the opportunity for participation in a wide range of functions and events in which wives and families are encouraged to participate.
Within a Lodge
Within the Lodge building will usually be found a room designed especially for Masonic meetings and ceremonies plus a supper room or refectory.
Most Lodges meet in the evening and the dress is formal evening dress or black dinner jacket.
However a dark lounge suit with dark tie is acceptable if the other is not available.
This attention to dress is largely for the sake of uniformity and to lend dignity to the ceremonies. It also gives equality to those present. Regalia and badges are worn to distinguish those who hold an office in the Craft.
A formal procedure is observed so that routine or private business is disposed of efficiently after which visiting Freemasons are admitted to the meeting. What generally follows is ceremonial work in the admission of new members or some other aspect of Masonic instruction.
After a meeting members gather in the refectory for refreshment. This is an important aspect of Freemasonry providing as it does, an opportunity for members to relax together in a social environment where happiness is the main criteria.
No one should enter Freemasonry in the hope of some material gain or advancement.
To do so will only lead to disappointment.
Membership is entirely voluntary. The rules require an intending member to be motivated by his own desire to join the Craft. He will be accepted if the members feel he has the qualities making for happy and successful participation in their Lodge.
He should ensure that his wife is fully aware of a Freemason's commitments and have her full support to his seeking membership. His financial circumstances must be such as to leave him able to meet the monetary obligations without detriment to himself or his family.
The qualifying age, except for the son of a mason, is twenty one years. Entry is restricted to those who can demonstrate that they believe in a Supreme Being, and are loyal to their country, law abiding and of good character.
A Lodge having been approached, the proposition for membership has to be put to its members according to an established procedure. This requires a proposer and seconder, the completion of a prescribed form and an investigation of the proposition prior to members being asked to record their decision through a secret ballot.
It takes some months to complete these preliminaries and up to a year for a candidate to achieve the status of full membership.
Freemasonry strives to take good men and make them better members of society.
Those who actively participate can enjoy a comradeship that is unique and develop a confidence in communicating with others that enables them to put Masonic teachings to good effect.
Source: The Book of Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of New Zealand, Twenty-Sixth Edition, (reprinted 2004), PART XII, GENERAL, Aims and Objects,
Are Satanists trying to steal Masonic acheivements?
John Barns Graham