Murder/Treason Only

In some Masonic obligations, there appears a phrase which will cause a law-abiding citizen to pause.  While the wording may be slightly different from place to place, the essence of the promise is that a Mason agrees to protect a Brother Master Mason's secrets as his own, murder and treason alone excepted.

One may rightfully ask, then: what about other crimes?  Robbery, assault, or other crimes against persons or property surely should not be the subject of 'Masonic protection', should they?

Of course not!  And no Mason would believe that they were. Immediately prior to taking that Masonic obligation, the candidate is advised that nothing he is about to promise will in any way interfere with any duty he owes to God, his country, his family/neighbor or himself.  

Clearly, an obligation each person in our society has is to report knowledge of a crime. In fact, hiding knowledge of a criminal act is a criminal act in and of itself, sometimes punishable by only a slightly lesser penalty?  Accordingly, no Mason has an obligation to protect another Mason should he learn of criminal wrongdoing of any kind. Were he to do so, he interferes with his duty to family/neighbor that he live as a peaceable citizen, obeying the laws of the land.  He would also severely violate his duty to himself, to live a clean and upright life, providing for his family and his community to the best of his ability. Thus, the hiding of a crime by another, be they a Mason or not, is inappropriate for a Mason under any circumstances.

Masons are obligated to protect the laws and to live as law-abiding citizens. As such, it would be unthinkable to allow a criminal to avoid the appropriate punishment simply because of a common membership.  In fact, most Masons would be so distraught at the thought of a criminal in their midst, they would quickly take action to ensure that the perpetrator was brought to justice and be removed from their ranks as well.  

Freemasonry does not condone criminal acts nor does it condone the hiding of them when known.

The admonition in the obligation is to impress upon a candidate that a Brother Mason should feel free to share their innermost thoughts without concern about 'blabbing' or reprisal.  To suggest that (a) a Mason would commit a criminal act and then (b) tell another Mason about it in order that (c) it would be concealed is foolish in the extreme. 

Masons as a group are not law-breakers nor do they support them. The charge that they do is specious at best and there are no supportable examples of Masons concealing the criminal acts of other Masons.

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