That’s not true. I’m a Christian and a Freemason. And I have things in my life aligned in the right order, too. God first, then family, then my job, and Freemasonry taking up the rear. I’ve been a Christian for over thirty years now. I’m a regular Bible reader, and I attend church. Nothing is more important to me than my relationship with God. I’ve worked hard in my life to apply those values I find in the Bible to my life, and like all Christians I fall short. However, I’ve never found anything in Freemasonry that conflicts in any way with what I’ve read in the Bible. And I’ve never been involved with a church that had a prohibition against Freemasonry—in fact one of the Deacons in a church I belonged to for more than a decade was a 33rd Degree (long before I knew exactly what that meant).
Some denominations and some individual churches however prohibit their members from joining the Fraternity, for a variety of reasons. I won’t go into all of those reasons, but the most common complaint I hear in my area is the fact that our Fraternity is open to all men who believe in the existence of God—so it’s open to all the major religions. Our opening and closing prayers are nonsectarian so they can be applied to any of the major monotheistic religions. Because Freemasonry welcomes men from all religions, we don't close our prayers with "in Jesus' name we pray." Some Christian denominations and churches have an issue with that. And that’s their right, and I can even respect their position.
This position on admitting members from all religious beliefs isn't new to Freemasonry. In fact, Freemasonry has served a very important role in our nation's history on this very topic of religious toleration and religious freedom in America. In America, we have the freedom of religion. It’s in our Constitution—it’s there BECAUSE of the Freemasons. That concept of freedom of religion came from the Masonic Lodges. In fact, there were a few concepts in addition to religious freedom that were borrowed from Freemasonry by our Founding Fathers when they were drafting the United States Constitution. Because Freemasonry yesterday and today respects ALL religions, ALL Americans have the right to worship as they wish. And because of those rights secured in part because of the traditions of Freemasonry, those churches today have every right to prohibit their members from joining our Lodges if they feel it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
How do you like that, huh? This was our idea!
So I’m not going to argue whether or not denominations or churches have the right to make rules like that—they clearly can. And I’m not even going to argue whether those prohibitions are right or wrong. If those are their beliefs then we need to respect that. And one thing we should never do as Freemasons is to discuss religious beliefs in our lodges, or pass judgements on these policies or these beliefs--I see this a lot on social media. Questioning someone's religious views or their church's policies is the surest way to start a fight--it's something that's deeply personal. One of the surest ways to divide your Lodge and alienate one Brother from another is to discuss religion among yourselves--the second way is discussing politics. We all know we shouldn't discuss religion or politics in Lodge and the reasons why. Another reason I wanted to touch on this topic is because of some of the ugly things I've read on social media lately aimed at churches and denominations that have a prohibition against joining a Masonic Lodge. As a member of the Fraternity that helped found the concept of religious freedom in America, we should practice what we've been preaching for so long.
Not all churches feel negatively about Freemasonry--far from it! Many respect the organization, and many even join with the Freemasons in raising funds to support local causes. I recently joined a church I’d been attending for some time, and before I joined, one of the things I asked the Pastor of that church was how that church felt about Freemasonry. That church respected the good work that our Fraternity does, and there are a few Freemasons that attend my church—I noticed Masonic license plates in the parking lot the first morning I attended so I was pretty sure I knew how he was going to answer that question when I asked it.
I’m a believer. I’m also a Freemason. In my experience I don’t see the two conflict with one another. In fact, I think they complement each other. 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 truth, brotherly love, charity, toleration, etc., are the same concepts the Pastors of Christian churches are preaching on every Sunday. The Fraternity gives me opportunities to apply those principles. It gives me instruction on how to incorporate those concepts into my life each day. It encourages me, like my church does, to continue to work at improving myself and my moral character. I don’t see any conflict at all . . . for me.
But getting back to my original question. Can you be a Freemason and a Christian? I clearly can and am! But whether you can be a Freemason and a Christian is between you, God, and your church. But any Freemason will tell you that you should never put the Lodge before your relationship with God. And if that means you don’t join a Masonic Lodge because of a prohibition against membership, then you should respect that.
I can only answer this question for myself, and you must do the same.
Todd E. Creason, 33° is an