The Masonic Lodge has evoked a great deal of interest and speculation over the years from people who have seen its symbols, known of its prominence or heard conspiracy theories surrounding our organization. The best way to introduce this organization and to dispel the slanders against it is to lay out our beliefs, values and theology. Here’s a look at what Masons believe.
The Theology of Freemasons
Masons aren’t a religion, but we do require all members to believe in a Supreme Power, an “Architect of the Universe” as we say. There are a number of different ways of understanding this power, and in fact Masons accept members from a number of faiths—Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others. This is one of the major sources of controversy from the Lodge, as fundamentalists of various religions can’t stand a place where men of different faiths can come together in brotherhood.
The Four Virtues of Freemasons
Masons hold four virtues to guide our lives: temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice. Temperance means that a Mason never overindulges, particularly in alcohol. Masons are expected to be drug free and to always consume food and drink in moderation. Fortitude means being courageous and meeting all of one’s obligations, regardless of how difficult this may be. Prudence means wise decision-making, taking one’s time before jumping into new commitments, speaking softly and being worthy of trust. Justice means that we work to help the downtrodden, that we keep our word and treat everybody with respect.
Other Masonic Values
Masons practice charity, and many of our country’s most valuable philanthropies are associated with the Lodge. Scottish Rite hospitals operate all over the country to offer free medical treatment to children who would otherwise suffer, die or cost their families a fortune. This is part of the our work for “Relief,” one of the points of practice to make ourselves better men.
Other practices we adopt to this end include Brotherly Love and Truth. Brotherly Love has a number of different elements. One is tolerance—all Masons work to be at peace with other men and women, regardless of differences of opinion or faith. We also work to support one another in the Lodge, helping out brother Masons in need. We believe that all men and women are brothers and sisters under a father God, and we work to make this apparent in our daily lives. Part of sustaining this value means that all Masons leave their controversies at home—the Lodge takes no position on any political or social issue; we bring no offensive or defensive issues into our midst, whether in thought, word or deed.
Truth is both an active and a passive pursuit. In its passive element, Masons tell the truth and avoid all deception or lies. In its active element, Masons adopt for themselves a pursuit of the ultimate truths—we are interested in knowing God, in knowing His plans for our lives and for pursuing His glory in all that we do. Our work is one of self-improvement and fellowship that we may all come closer to this goal.
The Diversity of the Lodge
All of this being said, each Grand Lodge is self-ruling, and each member Lodge underneath that is expected to handle its own membership. This means that there is a much diversity within the Lodge—in some countries it is mostly Christian, others predominantly Muslim, in yet others they tend towards a kind of independent Freethought. Masons are White, Black, Latino and Asian of various stripes. There is a great deal of diversity, united by our values and commitment to being men of honor and godliness.