Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion, but it is of a religious nature. Every Mason has a personal belief in God. This is a requirement for membership. Masonic ceremonies include brief prayers, to reaffirm each individual’s dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any denomination, but denominational differences are not discussed at Masonic meetings.
Freemasonry does not have any “Bible” of its own, or any “faith” of its own. In Lodge the Bible is by tradition, commonly referred to as the “Volume of the Sacred Law”, and it rules and governs the faith of each man present. The Bible is central to every Masonic meeting.
The obligations taken by Freemasons of this Lodge are taken on the the Bible. In Kempenfeldt Lodge the Holy Bible is the open book which is traditionally on prominent display at Lodge meetings. These obligations are only “symbolic” or “traditional” in nature. They do not conflict with his religious beliefs, or his civilian, military, police, governmental, or other duties, or his oath to allegiance to the monarchy (if he has taken one at any point in his life). Neither can they require him to conceal any crime or offence. They refer only to the pain any honest man should feel at the thought of violating his word. They are the undertakings of an honest and sincere man to follow the principles of Freemasonry and to keep confidential a Freemason’s means of recognition.
Should a man later decide to quit his membership in the Lodge, this is very easy and simple to do, he need only write a letter to the Lodge asking for a “demit”, and nothing “bad” will happen to him, even if he were to reveal our “secrets”. (They have already been revealed many times over the centuries, in various parts of the world.)
Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion: (a) It has no dogma or theology, no wish or means to enforce religious orthodoxy. (b) It offers no sacraments. (c) It does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge, or by any other means. The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with modes of recognition.
This is all explained at great length in the book Workman Unashamed (Second Edition 2005) described above, from both a Masonic and Church perspective. There have been many Church ministers from various denominations over the history of Freemasonry who have been active Freemasons and Royal Arch Masons, and they saw no conflict with their role as ordained Ministers and their membership in this men’s fraternity.
Freemasonry is far from indifferent toward religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his Duty to God above all other duties.
There is a tradition of Masons attending a Devine (Church) service, held annually by the District, in a local Church, as guests of the congregation. Outside of a Masonic funeral service, this is often the only time members of the public will see a Masonic Lodge assembled in Masonic Regalia (like a uniform, but consisting mainly of Masonic aprons). It is customary for the brethren to have their wives, children, and perhaps other family accompany them at this public service.
In regards to a Masonic Funeral service, it is only conducted on the (prior) request by the deceased member, or by his family. It does not interfere with the Church service, but may (if so requested, and if agreeable to the Minister) be held in conjunction with it. Sometimes such services arranged by other Lodges, have by happy coincidence seen a Church Minister, publically clothed as both a Minister and a Freemason leading such a service.
Misinformation, and just plain false information (as well as hate literature) on Freemasonry can be found (and is often recycled) in many books, and other publications, as well as on the internet. There are also those who at times lay claim to the name Freemason, who are not recognised Freemasons, as well as outlandish claims by others that some non-Masonic groups which may or may not even exist are somehow Masonic in nature. At times this material can even creep into public libraries and Church libraries.
For the non-Freemason it can be a very difficult task to separate truth from fiction (or worse). Due to such, Church Ministers may accidently be misinformed, or at least confused, if they have any pre-conceived notion at all of what Freemasonry is and is not, this is especially so if they do not know any Freemasons first hand. Yet, in those congregations where many men were Freemasons (and even some Ministers), more than one man who ended up becoming Master of his Lodge, began his Masonic career by learning about Freemasonry at a causal coffee in his Church after Sunday service, because he saw a Masonic lapel pin or Masonic ring, asked about it, found what he heard to be of genuine interest, and then or at a later date “asked for an application”.
Any Church Minster in the local area, having questions on Freemasonry, is most welcome to e-mail the Master of the Lodge, to discuss them. If the Master does not feel equipped to provide a suitable answer to the question, then he will arrange a suitable answer to be provided by someone more knowledgeable, or properly forward the question to Grand Lodge. Of course in all matters related to Freemasonry in the Province of Ontario, the official spokesman remains the Grand Master.
Rest assured there is no conflict between a man belonging to the fraternity of Freemasonry, and his involvement in any Church, unless of course others outside the fraternity choose to create a conflict for him, in which case they must speak for themselves as to their reasons for doing so, and the good Lord will be among those who listens.