'Religious Intolerants', perhaps acutely aware of the charges which have been leveled
against them, are quite quick to label Freemasonry as a cult and Masons as
Whether it's seeing a local parade with
Shriners dressed in imitation of Arabic
costumes playing flutes or whether it's being present at a Masonic funeral
service with a group of men dressed in black suits and gloves, the most
gullible among us might even consider this spurious charge as being possible.
Let us examine in detail the differences between Freemasonry and cults so
that you can decide for yourself. As you'll see, there are LOTS of reasons why
Freemasonry is NOT a cult!
Unlike a cult:
- The person joining Freemasonry knows clearly what organization he is
joining. He understands that he himself has asked to become a member.
- He retains freedom of religion, politics, friends, family association,
selection of spouse, and information access to internet, television, radio, reading
material at libraries and elsewhere, telephone, and mail.
- The connection with Freemasonry is usually infrequent: once or twice a
month. Although for some active members, Masonic activities will occur 2-3 times a week,
others proudly maintain Masonic membership attending only 1-2 (or even no)
meetings each year. There are no enforced long-term Masonic activities. The
longest Masonic event rarely, if ever, lasts longer than a day. Even events
which span a multiple day period (annual Grand Lodge meetings, for example)
leave members free to return to their homes and family each evening.
- A Mason can terminate his membership freely. In fact, if he fails to pay
his annual dues, his membership is terminated by the Masonic
organization! Should a Mason wish to leave
the organization, he can request a 'demit' and receive a certificate which states that
he has unaffiliated with the organization under good terms. No Mason is
forced to remain a member should he wish otherwise.
- No medical/dental care interference occurs or is even offered. This is not
true in the many cults that discourage and sometimes even forbid medical
care. The various hospital services provided by the Shriners are for
crippled and burned children, below the age of membership in Freemasonry,
and no Masonic affiliation is required for treatment in them. There
are some states which have blood donation programs that enable all Masons to
receive blood transfusions if necessary free of charge: we doubt that anyone
would remain a member of an organization against their will just to have
access to free blood transfusions!
- In Freemasonry, records are kept and are available to all members. Cult
records, if they exist, are confidential, hidden from members, and not
shared. Freemasonry's records extend back some 300 years, all readily
available. (Note: one marginally popular Mason writing
today makes the absurd claim that the United Grand Lodge of England has
secrets from the past they've kept hidden - but his charge relates to things
that happened three centuries ago and not of our current times. Further,
nearly all credible Masonic writers and researchers think these charges are
- While membership lists are not posted publicly, this policy is no
different than that of private golf clubs or lists of employees of privately
held corporations. Members are free to disclose their membership to whomever
- A legal system exists within Freemasonry and a Mason can also utilize
non-Masonic legal and law enforcement agencies and other representatives if
needed. In cults, there is only the closed, internal system of justice, and
no appeal, no recourse to outside support.
- Families of Masons talk and deal directly with schools. Children of Masons
may attend public or private schools as they wish. Some Masonic bodies
(notably the Southern U.S. Scottish Rite Masonic Jurisdiction) in fact
vigorously support the public school system. In cults, children, child rearing, and
education are often controlled by the whims and idiosyncrasies of the cult
- Freemasonry is not a sovereign entity above the laws of the land. Cults
consider themselves above the law, with their own brand of morality and
justice, accountable to no one, not even their members.1
- A Mason gets to keep his pay, property owned and acquired presents from
relatives, inheritances, and so forth. In many cults, members are expected
to turn over to the cult all monies and worldly possessions.
- Rational behavior is valued in Freemasonry. Cults stultify members'
critical thinking abilities and capacity for rational, independent thinking;
normal thought processes are stifled and broken (somewhat like the manner of
actions of those who make the charge that Freemasons are cultists!).
- Suggestions and criticism can be made to leadership through advocated,
proper channels. There are no 'suggestion boxes' in cults. The cult is
always right, and the members (and outsiders) are always wrong.
- Masonic leadership is elected, usually annually. No Masonic leader serves
'for life'. Should a Masonic leader act improperly, he can be removed from
office. Even the highest ranking officer within a Masonic jurisdiction (a
Grand Master) serves at the will and pleasure of the membership and can be
removed for malfeasance or acts detrimental to the fraternity.
- There is no single leader of Freemasonry. There are hundreds of Grand
Lodges throughout the world, and each is sovereign unto itself. A Grand
Lodge controls only its own subordinate lodges and no others. Rules made by
a Grand Lodge apply only to its own members.
- Masons may affiliate with more than one Grand Lodge. With rare exceptions,
there is no bar to joining multiple lodges in multiple jurisdictions.
- Freemasonry does not use its members for medical and psychological
experiments - period! Cults essentially perform psychological experiments on
their members through implementing thought-reform processes without
members' knowledge or consent.
- Masons become more and more a part of the community through various
lodge-sponsored events. In a cult, members come to know less and less abut
the outside world; contact with or information about life outside the cult
is sometimes openly frowned upon, if not forbidden.
- Freemasonry has no particular dietary suggestions or recommendations.
Typically, because of intense work schedule, lack of funds, and other cult
demands, members are not able to maintain healthy eating habits. (Freemasons
frequently host public dinners which anyone can attend and Masonic events
regularly have plenty of food for those attending - sometimes, a little TOO
much, if judged by the waistlines of some members. <sigh>)
- Masonry regularly contributes to other groups and organizations. Masonic
organizations take leadership positions in fund raising for charities and
public good (see our section on Charities). Cults
desperately seek to keep whatever assets they are able to obtain;
Freemasonry shares with the world - estimates currently are at approximately
two million dollars PER DAY!
- In Freemasonry, instruction is based on symbolism but brainwashing, or
thought reform, is not used. Cults influence members by means of a
coordinated program of psychological and social influence techniques.
Freemasonry allows each member to provide his own interpretation of the
symbols involved and no one interpretation is deemed to be correct to the
exclusion of all others. Witness the many interpretations given by various
Masonic writers over the centuries.... Religious intolerants will attempt to
label this or that individual's interpretation as representative of
Freemasonry but nothing could be further from the truth. What any other
Mason (including the oft-misquoted Masonic authors like Albert Pike) sees in
the symbolism of the Trowel, for example, may be far different from what I
as a Mason see - yet neither of us is wrong.
For these and many other reasons, Freemasonry is not a cult - and, in fact,
is further from it than the practices of many of those who hurl the term at it
as if it were an evil invective.
The next time you hear or read of someone calling a Mason a cultist, we hope
you will look closely at their own background and beliefs. Perhaps they know
about cults because of themselves....
It is important here to mention the
current events in the United Kingdom where a 'witch hunt' mentality
exists, causing strident charges that Masons should be forced to disclose
their membership lists, unlike any other private organization. The
ostensible purpose is to determine whether there is public corruption
as a result of Masonic membership.
When, as any similarly-situated organization would do, Masonic
leaders refused to comply, there were vocal charges that they held
themselves to be above the law. Nothing could be further from the truth -
and, in fact, English Masonic leaders were asking only that they be
treated identically to other organizations similarly situated.
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