Freemasons and Christianity
From About Freemasons
Freemasons and Christianity have a long and sometimes complicated history. Early Freemasons were Christian men and in fact Christianity was incorporated into Freemasonry in some ways. Freemasons need to proclaim a faith in a Supreme Being and most Lodges use the Bible as a scared text. Early Practicing Masons helped to build cathedrals and churches and some of the churches around the world in fact have Masonic symbols upon them.
However, the relationship between Freemasonry and Christianity has not always been an easy one. Some Christian groups strongly object to Freemasonry as competition with or even a disparaging of the Christian faith. Some Christian groups even think that Freemasonry draws believers away from Christianity and as a result some Christian denominations ban members from joining the Freemasons. At the same time, some Masonic bodies require members to be professing Christians to some degree. The Knights Templar, Societas Rosicruciana, the Royal Order of Scotland, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the Rectified Scottish Rite, the Swedish Rite, and the Red Cross of Constantine all require members to profess some form of Christian belief, even though membership in most cases is not strictly limited to Christians.
Freemasonry and the Catholic Church
The relationship between the Freemasons and the Catholic Church specifically has tended to be tense. The Catholic Church since the 1700s has been quite critical of Freemasonry and several papal bulls have been published that excommunicate Catholics active in Freemasonry. The position of the Catholic Church is that Freemasonry is anti-clerical, some Freemason rituals are anti-Catholic, and that Freemasonry is deist. The Catholic Church has also at times objected to the religious tone of some Freemason rituals. Freemasons deny these assertions
Freemasons and their beliefs
Freemasons believe in the separation of Church and State and the Freedom of Religion, which is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Masons do not see Freemasonry as a religious group at all and claim that there should be no conflict between Masons and religious groups, since Freemasonry poses no threat and does not disparage Christianity (or any other religion) in any way. Some Christian denominations allege that the separation of Church and State is a threat to Christianity as it builds religious indifference and weakens the role of religion in society.
Protestant beliefs and Freemasonry
Some Protestant denominations, like the Catholic Church, disagree with the tenets of Freemasonry and try to discourage or ban their members from participating in Lodges. Protestant denominations that have discouraged their members in this way to some extent and at some time include:
- Evangelical Lutheran Synod
- Church of the Nazarene
- Assemblies of God
- Society of Friends (Quakers)
- United Brethren
- Free Methodist church
- Wesleyan Methodist church
- The Southern Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board
- Lutheran Church in America
- Salvation Army
- Orthodox Presbyterian Church
- Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly
- Free Church of Scotland
- Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland
- Presbyterian Church in America
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
- Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
- Christian Reformed Church in America
- Church of the Brethren
- Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Mormon Church and Freemasonry
The founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, Jr., came from a family that was active in Freemasonry. Many of the rituals in Smith’s Church were possibly influenced by Freemason rituals. Unfortunately, some Freemasons had anti-Mormon beliefs. By the time the Grand Lodge of Utah was created, it openly espoused anti-Mormon sentiments and banned Mormons from joining its lodges. In turn, the church prevented Masons from holding the top positions in the church. By 1984, the church and the Grand Lodge of Utah agreed to end the animosity, although some tension and suspicion remains.