Masonry is a fraternal, social, and service organization. But it is more. It is also a religious organization.
The Masons nearly always deny this in their public statements, but their official literature and their actions make it clear that Masonry is a religion. They require a belief in God — any god — as a condition of membership. They have published a Masonic Bible that contains special study guides. They conduct funerals for their members. Most important, their official, non-public literature is filled with religious doctrine.
Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, considered to be the most authoritative and influential Masonic book today,1 states point blank that "Freemasonry is undoubtedly a religion."2 In Albert G. Mackey's Manual of the Lodge he says: "As Masons we are taught never to begin any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing and protection of deity, and this is because Masonry is a religious institution."3 In another of his books, Mackey (considered the third most influential Masonic writer4) declares that "the religion of Masonry is cosmopolitan and universal."5
The greatest Masonic writer of all times, Albert Pike, argued that "every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion; and its teachings are instruction in religion."6 He further stated, "Masonry is... the universal, eternal, immutable religion, such as God planted in the heart of universal humanity."7
Some personal experiences have convinced me that many Masons look upon the Masonic Order as their church, or perhaps more appropriately, as their ticket to Heaven.
This conclusion is based upon the letters I received from the wives of Masons during the 22 years I had a nationwide radio program (1980-2002). Every time I would broadcast a series of radio programs about Masonry, I would receive a flood of letters from wives expressing deep concern about their husbands' involvement in the organization.
The letters read like a broken record. Over and over the same sentiment was expressed: "My husband is a Mason. He claims to be a Christian. Yet he never studies his Bible, rarely prays, and attends church with me only two or three times a year. But he never misses a Masonic meeting."
Another experience that I vividly remember occurred at a church in Indiana in the late 1980's. When I arrived to conduct a prophecy conference for them, I noticed a large chart in the foyer. A number of people were standing around studying the chart.
When I asked what it was all about, a man who introduced himself as one of the elders, explained that the pastor had called for a 24 hour prayer vigil at the church in behalf of the conference. On the chart were the names of dozens of people who had signed up to come to the church to pray for 30 minutes, day and night. I was impressed.
I turned to the elder and asked, "Where is your name on the chart?"
"Oh, it's not there," he said. "You see, last night was my Masonic lodge meeting, so I couldn't be here to pray."
1) John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Fast Facts on the Masonic Lodge (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers), page 17.
2) Henry Wilson Coil, Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia (New York: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply, 1961), page 158.
3) Albert G. Mackey, Manual of the Lodge (New York: Clark Maynard, 1870), page 46.
4) Ankerberg & Weldon, page 17.
5) Albert G. Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences, vol. 1 (Chicago: Masonic History Co.), page 301.
6) Albert Pike, Liturgy of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, part 2 (Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Council, 33rd Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the USA, 1982) page 167.
7) Ibid., pages 198-199.