Freemasonry is often misunderstood. It’s sometimes confused with other organizations that use similar rituals, such as secret societies like the Knights Templar or orders like the Red Cross. Even among its own members, it’s not uncommon to find people who think Freemasonry is a religion.
Thankfully, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. While most secret societies are religious in nature and require their members to have a certain faith before they can join, Freemasonry is purely a fraternal organization that welcomes men of all religions and even has non-religious members. In fact, in some jurisdictions you can only become a Mason if you don’t belong to another faith-based organization.
Here, we’ll take a look at why so many people think that Freemasonry is a religion and dispel some myths about what it really means to be a Mason.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that dates back to the medieval era and is centered on the symbols and practices of ancient building crafts such as stonemasonry. While there are many different Masonic organizations around the world, most of these are independent Grand Lodges that are unaffiliated with each other, unless they’re part of a special international organization like the Order of Freemasonry. Given that you don’t have to have any specific beliefs or be a member of a certain religion to join a Masonic Lodge, it’s easy to see how people might mistakenly think that Freemasonry is a religion. However, Freemasonry is simply an organization that allows men of all religions to come together and practice a common set of symbols, rituals, and traditions that bring them together as brothers. As such, it’s similar to many social clubs or organizations that are open to people of all faiths, like the Rotary Club or Lions Club.
Freemasonry is not a Secret Society
Freemasonry is often mistakenly believed to be a secretive society. This is not the case. Freemasons are mutual friends who come together to practice a common set of symbols, rituals, and traditions that bring them together as brothers. While it’s true that there are some Grand Lodges that are very secretive in nature, most are not. In fact, many are open to non-members and even outsiders to observe the meetings and participate in the proceedings. Freemasons don’t keep secrets from each other, either. Instead, it’s common for new members to be initiated into the organization in a private ceremony that involves a few members sharing some secrets with them. However, these secrets are always completely unrelated to the organization itself and have nothing to do with the Lodge’s activities.
Freemasonry is not a Religion
Many people think that Freemasonry is a religion because of the way some of its symbols and practices look like those of certain religions, like the all-purpose square, compass, and level. However, this is a common misconception. While certain Masonic symbols and practices look similar to those of religion, they’re actually unrelated to religion in any way. For example, while Masonic initiation rituals include the use of religious language and symbols, they’re non-denominational in nature and have absolutely nothing to do with the beliefs of Masons themselves. In fact, the symbols used during Masonic initiation ceremonies are borrowed from a variety of sources and were developed long before the organization itself was even created.
Why People Think Freemasonry is a Religion
Freemasons themselves sometimes contribute to this confusion by using religious language in some of their ceremonies and by using symbols that resemble religious symbols. While this is a mistake on their part, it’s also understandable given that many people are unfamiliar with the organization. After all, if you’ve never heard anyone talk about it before, it’s easy to assume that it has a religious background. Additionally, because so many people associate Freemasonry with certain ancient secret societies, it’s not surprising that many assume that it’s a religion. However, Freemasonry is a completely separate entity from these and has no relationship to ancient secret societies at all. Freemasonry simply shares some common symbols with other organizations because the practice of stonemasonry is one that’s been practiced for thousands of years.
Freemasonry is a social organization that allows men of all religions to come together and practice a common set of symbols, rituals, and traditions that bring them together as brothers. While it’s often mistakenly believed to be a religion, it’s actually nothing more than a common fraternal organization that welcomes men of all religions and even has non-religious members. In fact, many of the rituals used in Freemasonry are derived from ancient building crafts like stonemasonry that have been practiced for thousands of years. If you’ve never heard about it before, it’s easy to see why you might assume that it’s a religion. However, once you learn more about the organization, you’ll see that it’s nothing like the fringe groups that are often associated with it.