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An oft-asked question is "What do Masons believe?". A similar - but not identical question - is "What does Freemasonry believe?"
In fact, these two questions are in the 'top 5' category of e-mails to our website.
To address this, here's a list of things that Masons believe:
Now as you've
read through that list, I suspect that you realized there are precious few
'absolute' things that Masons believe. Obviously, we could get into a pretty
heated debate over the relative merits of Meat Loaf's singing versus that of -
say - Mario Lanza or Abba or Willy Nelson
but can we ever conclude that - for all Masons - coffee ice cream 'takes
the cake' over vanilla?
So what does FREEMASONRY believe?
Freemasonry is an organization and is an inanimate object. Accordingly, it doesn't 'believe' anything. Freemasons have introduced their beliefs into the organization, certainly, but because Freemasonry is not a single, monolithic organization, the 'beliefs' of one Grand Lodge are not de facto the same as in another. The so-called 'Landmarks' of Freemasonry are different from one Grand Lodge to another.
And then there are the 'But what if....' messages. These are SO very frustrating. "What if I believed in Satan as a Supreme Being?" (Answer: would you REALLY want to join an organization like the Masons? No, you wouldn't - so why play silly word games?) or "What if I don't really believe in a Supreme Being?" (Answer: What part of "We require a candidate to have a belief in a Supreme Being." did you not understand?). Oh, and then there's the "I knew a Mason and he said that all Masons must be Republicans." (Answer: I didn't know that that the Republican party existed in Australia or the Philippines or Scotland....).
And there's also the "Do Masons believe in <homosexuality, divorce, abortion, reincarnation, or enter your favorite 'whipping post' topic>?" The answer? Some probably do - but because Masons are taught to bring nothing offensive or defensive into the lodge, such matters are NEVER the subject of lodge discussions nor does the fraternity take a position on them.
It's difficult to give a precise answer because every person who becomes a Mason takes the lessons and internalizes them so that Freemasonry is a very personal matter. The result is that there's not one specific 'goal' or belief but rather a rather broad group of concepts. Personally, we particularly like the statement made by one Masonic author that "The aims of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth achieved with Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice."
What is so often misunderstood is the fact that there is no 'litmus test' for Masonic membership. There are no 'religious correctness' examinations and one's personal beliefs on any controversial topic are left outside the door of the Masonic Lodge.
A Mason promises that he will not bring anything of an offensive or defensive nature into a Lodge. This prohibition extends to thoughts, words and deeds - and thus, Masons have for centuries been able to meet "on the level" (i.e. as equals) regardless of their religious or political views or social position.
Masons believe in the concepts of Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, Faith, Hope, Charity, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice and as a result, have no problem setting aside differences which divide in favor of similarities which unite. For those who preach a message of divisiveness and/or hate, this ability is both confusing and abhorrent - yet for Freemasons, it is entirely within character.
Does this mean that Masons don't have opinions on the matters of the day? Of course not! They can be passionately for or against anything from an increase in the local sewer tax to the best football team to issues of politics. Rather than risk a disagreement with a Brother Mason, however, virtually all will retire from rather than press a disagreement in a place where Masons are meeting as such - even if not in an actual Lodge. It's that respect for the opinion of others which makes Masonry an organization which so many have come to enjoy!
At the risk of repeating ourselves, we'll restate:
Masonry/Masons has/have no pre-defined belief system:
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