By Paul Rodriguez-Obrien—Senior Warden
There are certain subjects which, by a wise consensus, we refrain from discussing within the Lodge; religion is one, politics is another. In not having politics or religion discussed inside the Lodge, we are creating a better atmosphere of harmony and inclusivity by avoiding the divisive nature of both subjects. However, some might ask why or when this was originally implemented?
Historically, such discussions were banned in England because they didn't want to be seen as conspiratorial against the Crown or against the Church. This policy was followed within our Lodges as well to keep the Lodges impartial to both entities, and to assure their neutrality from any ‘Cowans and Eavesdroppers’.
When Freemasonry started on a formal basis in 1717, it was said, “Here's a group of men that agree that God is central in their lives, they can even agree that God compels them to do good in the community”. That was a radical concept; that men could get together and agree on that fundamental level, and then get on with their lives.
Our Fraternity is open to all men of all religions who believe in the existence of God. Our opening and closing prayers are nonsectarian so that they can be applied to any of the major monotheistic religions. Many of the morals and tenets taught in the Bible are mirrored by the teachings of the Fraternity as well. Concepts we strive towards as Freemasons like ‘Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth’, are some of the same concepts our churches are lovingly preaching every week. The Fraternity gives us the opportunity to further apply those same principles and goals in support of our core beliefs, both in our personal lives and together as Brothers.
Furthermore, there have been 14 US Presidents (From Washington to Ford) who were Masons, 25 Masonic Signers of the Constitution, and 9 of our Founding Fathers were also our Brothers. Masons and Masonry played an important part in the Revolutionary War and an even more important part in the Constitutional Convention and the debates surrounding the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Within our US Constitution we have the ‘freedom of religion’. That concept originated in our Masonic Lodges. In fact, there were a few concepts in addition to religious freedom that were borrowed from Freemasonry by our Founding Fathers during the drafting the United States Constitution. The nature of the declaration is consistent with the ideas of Freemasonry, in that the ideas of the freedom, independence, liberty, and equality were at hand in its creation and continue to be an important part of our Fraternity today.
Remember, Freemasonry of yesterday as well as the Freemasonry of today respects ALL religions, for ALL Americans have the right to worship as they wish.
However, keep in mind that forbidding the discussion of religion and politics within the Lodge (‘among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree’), will never detract from the importance of serving within our community, our growth of moral character, or realizing that Masonry is a powerful tool that can help a us in our quest to become more spiritual within our own beliefs.