Misconceptions of Freemasonry, Scottish and York rite, and the Shriners. 75
I am sick and tired of uneducated people saying that freemasonry and its affiliates are devil worshipers or that we are a secret society that runs the world. First of all this is ludicrous. The fraternity of Freemasonry is the oldest, largest, and most widely known fraternal organization in the world. This explanation will hopefully correct some misconceptions.
Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms and use stonemasons' customs and tools as allegorical guides. To become a Freemason you must be found worthy regardless of your religion. Freemasonry is not a religion. You do have to believe in a higher power to become a Freemason, though. Atheists are not accepted into the Fraternity. Membership is open to men of any ethnicity or religion who can fulfill the essential qualifications and are of good repute.
Masonry cannot be a religion for many reasons. My lodge has members from Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, and other Christian families. We all meet twice a month at our local chapter. As soon as you enter the lodge all talk of religion and politics is not allowed. We are all equals no matter your ethnicity, your age, the amount of money you make a year, or your religion. We must simply believe in a higher power so our oath to each other may be bound by our faith to our creator. Masonry can never replace your faith. In fact, it is considered a dishonor to Masonry itself for you to abandon your faith, family, or countrymen.
These oaths that make us kill our brothers or bind us to heinous tortures are ridiculous. It makes me just shake my head at the ignorance to which some people have. People will believe anything these days. When asked how they came to these conclusions most will tell you they read an eBook or seen it online. If the internet has become a place for research then we are all in big trouble. The truth of it is in the early days of Freemasonry, the Church considered math, geometry, and even astronomy the work of the devil. Operative Masons had to live by strict oaths of secrecy to protect their selves and their families. Many scientists in history past were killed for their work and their beliefs. Therefore Freemasonry is not a secret society. We are a society with secrets. Just like any fraternity that one belongs to, these secrets are known by all of the members. When I say secrets I do not mean plots to control the world. I mean fraternities have secret handshakes and things of that nature.
Anyone seeking Membership in Freemasonry must ask a Masonic friend to recommend him. We do not Rush, openly invite, or solicit members like most fraternities do. The person must sign a Petition, stating his age, occupation, and place of residence. Members of the Lodge will vote by secret ballot. And the ballot must be unanimous. If the person becomes a Mason then he will attend his local Blue Lodge twice a month for meetings. At the meetings they will conduct their regular business and vote upon Petitions for Membership. Also the Blue Lodge is where the principals of Freemasonry are taught.
There are three degrees of Freemasonry. The Entered Apprentice Degree, The Fellowcraft Degree, and The Master Mason Degree. Each of the degrees requires the candidate to participate in the drama being presented. They are all of a very serious nature and not in the least demeaning of the candidate. Masonic catechisms are a series of memorized questions and answers pertaining to a specific degree. Usually, the candidate meets with a lodge member who knows these catechisms and helps him to memorize the work. The catechisms simply reiterate the degree work that the candidate recently completed and proves his proficiency with them. Once a catechism is completed the candidate can proceed to the next degree. There is no higher degree in Freemasonry than that of Master Mason.
There are three main principles that Freemasons try to abide by. These three are relief, truth, and brotherly love.
Relief- Freemasons are taught to practice charity and to care for other, usually through charitable giving and through philanthropy. From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick, and the aged. This work continues today. Freemasons, The Scottish Rite, The York Rite, and the Shriners donate millions of dollars each and every year to charities. In addition, large sums are given to national and local charities.
Truth- Freemasons strive to have high moral standards and aim to achieve them in their own lives. Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
Brotherly Love- Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.
Freemasonry demands from its members a respect for the law of the country in which a man works and lives. Its principles do not in any way conflict with its member' studies as citizens, but should strengthen them in fulfilling their private and public responsibilities. The use by a Freemason of their membership to promote his own or anyone else's business, professional, or personal interests is condemned, and is contrary to the conditions on which he sought admission to Freemasonry. His duty as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons, and any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonorably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty.
As for The Scottish Rite, The York Rite, and the Shriners they are all a part of the Masonic family. You have to be a Freemason to join one of the others.
The Scottish Rite is one of two largest concordant bodies of Freemasonry in which a Master Mason may proceed after he has completed the three degrees of Craft lodge masonry. The Scottish Rite work expands and elaborates on the lessons of the three Craft lodge degrees.
The York Rite is the other major concordant body of Freemasonry in which a Master Mason may proceed to supplement or amplify the Craft degrees, affording historical background on the work and meaning of Freemasonry.
The Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, better known as the Shriners is also a part of the Masonic family. Shriners are freemasons who enjoy life. They enjoy parades, trips, circuses, dances, dinners, sporting events, and other social occasions together. Every effort is made to be sure a Shriner has a variety of activities from which he may choose. The main purpose for the Shriners is the hospitals. The hospitals care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palates. In all there are 22 hospitals that the Shriners run. Since 1922, they have treated more than 835,000 children. Treatment at Shriners Hospitals is always free of charge, and they do not discriminate on the basis of race or religion. Famous Shriners have included former President Gerald Ford, golfer Arnold Palmer, and astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
In brief, certain fundamentalist groups oppose Freemasonry mostly out of ignorance and misinformation. Ignorance of Masonry allows misinformation to spread. I hope this article has helped to break down a lot of misconceptions that people have with Freemasonry and its Masonic family.