Did You Know This About Freemasonry?

By REV. NOAH L. BESS

An address given before the Wisconsin Conference for

Masonic Unity

Royal Arch Magazine Winter 1966

Freemasonry has done far more for me than I can ever do

for Freemasonry. My debt is humbly and gratefully

acknowledged. I have learned that her lessons, tenets and

fundamental principles impressively and inspiringly

emphasize that faith in Deity and the practice of truth,

morality, charity and brotherly love are essential to the well-

being of one's life and also to society in its far reaching

complex organizations.

Freemasonry has afforded me the opportunity to have

precious friendships. She has required of me only that which

is required and expected of every member - to walk

uprightly, to do good, and to obey the divine law. As we all

know, she never requires a member to violate his duty to

God, his country or himself.

Having said this, it behooves me to mention another great

and forceful promoter and supporter of morality, integrity and

neighborly love - the Church of Jesus of Nazareth. In my

opinion, the Church of God, by whatever name or sign it is

known, and Freemasonry are the two strongest organized

forces in the United States today, and possibly in the world,

for keeping our country and civilization right side up morally.

Both have a profound faith in, and deep concern for, truth,

morality, charity and the brotherhood of man under the

Fatherhood of God.

I know of no reason for conflict between these two

organizations. I have given my wholehearted support to

them for the past 40 years and am resolved to continue this

support as long as I may live.

Over the years I have heard various statements about

Freemasonry. By far, the statements have been

complimentary, highly commending the Craft for its moral

influence in promotion of truth, honor and good citizenship. It

is difficult to understand why any intelligent person would

oppose Freemasonry if he were familiar with its fundamental

tenets.

The criticisms leveled against Freemasonry invariably

originate with the uninformed and occasionally with jealous

individuals. Frequently, it appears, the criticisms come from

persons who desire to monopolize or control their groups. It

is pitiful to hear criticism from the ostrich type. He sees a

single mistake which he does not like or understand, made

by a Mason or in some area of Masonry - and then buries his

head in the sands of ignorance and proceeds to criticize the

entire Order. Unfortunately such persons do not desire to

become informed.

Nevertheless Freemasonry is big and strong and wise

enough to suffer opposition. It is also big enough and wise

enough to continue to practice brotherly love. It must be kept

in mind that Masonry looks with disapproval upon

argumentative refutations in her behalf. However,

Freemasons have the right, if they so choose, to make

certain declarations about the tenets and purposes of

Freemasonry - but always within the bounds of that

fundamental principle of Order, TRUTH!

The statements made in opposition to Freemasonry are

often amusing. For example: (1) Freemasonry is atheistic;

(2) It is a church; (3) It is anti-Christian; (4) It is a secret

society; (5) It teaches that heaven is obtained by good works

and not by faith; (6) It has no right to have an altar and a

Holy Bible in the lodge room because only the church has

that right; (7) It denies Christ because it allows members in

other lands, whose religious faiths are other than Christian,

to place their "Volume of Sacred Law" on the altar; (8)

Freemasons have a divided loyalty which prevents true

loyalty to their country and to their church.

In answer to these criticisms, believing it to be within the

rules and practices of the fraternity, and with the hope that it

will be helpful, I venture to state what I have learned to be

true from my reading and personal participation and

fellowship within the brotherhood.

FAITH IN GOD

As every Master Mason knows, no atheist can join a

Masonic lodge. In American lodges, and probably in other

countries too, a man's faith in Deity increases as he

advances in Masonic knowledge. As he seeks more light in

Masonry his attention is directed to various scriptures. Thus

the candidate has opportunity to become informed and to

have a personal and well grounded faith in Deity.

BOOK OF THE LAW

It is well to remember that the origin of Freemasonry as a

symbolic lodge was in England, and that it was oriented

under the influence of the established Church of England. In

Scotland it was established under the influence of the

Presbyterian Church. However, in order to extend the

benefits of Freemasonry as a universal brotherhood to all

mankind, it was deemed good and wise to grant to people of

other religious faiths the right to place their Book of Sacred

Law on the altars in their lodges. It was believed that through

the bonds of truth, charity, morality and brotherly love they

would be led eventually into a fuller and more complete

knowledge of God.

NOT A CHURCH OR RELIGION

It must be remembered that Masonry is not a religion, but it

is religious. Primarily, it is a brotherhood built on morality,

truth and charity. These virtues, as well as the use of Holy

Bible and altars, cannot be monopolized by lodge, church,

club or government. It is fundamental in Masonry that each

man be afforded his personal right as a free man to worship

the Supreme Being of the universe, using the name which

he has been taught to use for Deity according to the dictates

of his own conscience and in the light he has received it.

Although I am zealous for the Order, I keep in mind the fact

that Freemasonry is not a church. It does not seek to usurp

the ecclesiastical functions of the Church. Each Master

Mason is encouraged to be reverent and obedient to the

laws of God and to respect the religious convictions of his

brethren.

Freemasonry is not a secret society, but it has a secret. In

fact, Masonry is well known. Masonic temples and halls, the

time of meetings and the names of the principal officers are

listed in newspapers. Membership in Masonic lodges is

proudly admitted. Masonic charities and hospitals are

favorably known among non-Masons.

Every Mason knows that his obligation to the fraternity does

not interfere with the duty he owes his country, his family or

his God. Masonry encourages each member to put forth his

best endeavor intelligently, loyally and devotedly for the

welfare of his country, his family and the church of his

choice.

NOT ANTI-CHRISTIAN

The attention of the misinformed, who think or say that the

faith and practice of Freemasonry is anti-Christian, is

directed to the words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of

St. Mark 9:38 "Whoever is not against us is for us." Free and

Accepted Masons are taught to do the will of God, and in a

spirit of brotherly love to give assistance to worthy, needy

people. It can be said that if Freemasonry is anti-Christian,

the Old Testament is also anti-Christian.

Freemasonry is founded upon the sublime principle of faith

in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

Masonry deplores and strongly opposes bigotry, selfishness,

cheating, conceit, wicked ambition, falsehood and the

slanderous tongue, religious snobbery, misrepresentation

and degradation of character.

BE A LIVING EXAMPLE

Freemasons recognize the fact that all men are subject to

error and that all Masons do not achieve the same moral and

spiritual stature. However, every true Master Mason strives

to so live that his life will reflect his faith in thoughts, words

and deeds. This is in accord with the word of the apostle

James: "Faith without words is dead." It is also in harmony

with the words of Jesus in his sermon on the mount: "Let

your light so shine before men, that they may see your good

works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven."

We cannot combat opposition by argument, but we can

overcome unjust criticism by living a moral and upright life,

by practicing brotherly love and making it real, and by

bearing enthusiastic witness to the benefits and work of the

Order. Do not sell the lodge short. We have good news.

Many await our witness.

 

         

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