THE ARS QUATUOR CORONATI CIRCLE OF CORRESPONDENCE WORKS
Freemasonry and Religion
In the light of recent comments on Free-masonry and religion and inquiries to be held by various churches into the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity, the Board has decided to issue the following statement in amplification of that originally approved by Grand Lodge in September 1962 and confirmed by Grand Lodge in December 1981.
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It demands of its members belief in a Supreme Being, but provides no system of faith of its own. Its rituals include prayers, but these relate only to the matter instantly in hand and do not amount to the practice of religion.
Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at its meetings.
THE SUPREME BEING
The names used for the Supreme Being enable men of different faiths to join in prayer (to God as they see Him) without the terms of the prayer causing dissension among them.
There is no Masonic God : a Freemason re-mains committed to the God of the religion he professes.
Freemasons meet in common respect for the Supreme Being, but He remains Supreme in their individual religions, and it is no part of Freemasonry to attempt to join religions together. There is therefore no composite Masonic God.
VOLUME OF THE SACRED LAW
An open Volume of the Sacred Law is an essential part of every Masonic meeting. The Volume of the Sacred Law to a Christian is the Bible; to Freemasons of other faiths it is the book held holy by them.
THE OATHS OF FREEMASONRY
The obligations taken by Freemasons are sworn on or involve the Volume of the Sacred Law. They are undertakings to keep secret a Freemason's means of recognition and to follow the principles of Freemasonry. The physical penalties are simply symbolic. The commitment to follow the principles of Freemasonry is deep, and entirely appropriate to this form of obligation.
FREEMASONRY COMPARED WITH RELIGION
Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion:
(a) It has no dogma or theology (and by for-bidding religious discussion at its meetings will not allow a Masonic dogma to develop).
(b) It offers no sacraments.
(c) It does not claim to lead to salvation, by works, secret knowledge or any other means (the secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with modes of recognition, not with salvation).
FREEMASONRY SUPPORTS RELIGION
Freemasonry is far from indifferent to religion.
Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith, and to place his duty to God (by whatever name He is known) above all other duties. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religious.
Why is a Master addressed as "Worshipful" ?
Few Masonic matters are less understood by the non-Masonic public than this. The word "worchyppe" or "worchyp" is Old English, and means "greatly respected." In the Wycliffe Bible "Honor thy father and thy mother" appears as "Worchyp thy fadir and thy modir." English and Canadian mayors are still addressed, "Your Worship." In some of the Old Constitutions of Masonry is the phrase, "Every Mason shall prefer his elder and put him to worship."
"Worshipful," therefore, in modern Masonry continues an ancient word meaning "greatly respected." A Grand Master is "Most Worshipful," that is, "Most greatly respected" (except in Pennsylvania, where the Grand Master is "Right Worshipful," as are Pennsylvania's and Texas' Past Grand Masters).
Selected article from Masonic Education Committee
Statement of the Board of General Purposes - United Grand Lodge of England. June 12, 1985
Source : SA Digest "101 Questions About Freemasonry''