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So there are a lot of different opinions of freemasonry, but many of them sound like malicious rumors. I would love to use this site as a resource to clear them up and get to the truth.

The problem: Some people claim that freemasonry is not a religious group, which makes them not a Christian group, which makes them off-topic for the site.

The difference: A lot of people think they are some kind of Christian group, so they would expect this site to have questions and answers on them.

What are we going to decide about this?

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    Ask this guy Freemason the satirist – Mawia Dec 12 '13 at 5:02
  • @Mawia I pinged him in chat about Mason stuff, then the idea to post this question came up. He will see it eventually. – fredsbend Dec 12 '13 at 5:59
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The most important question is "do Freemasons identify themselves as a Christian group?"

If the answer to that question is yes, then they are on topic. If the answer to that question is no then they aren't.

I'm not a Freemason so I have no insight into the question beyond that. Perhaps our resident Freemason could give us an answer.

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    I think that questions about Freemasonry from the point of view of some denomination are definitely on-topic. History, doctrine, attitudes, discipline - it's all there, and there's lots to talk about. For questions from a masonic point of view, I agree with you that it depends on how they identify (perhaps some subgroups are different?). I'm also not a mason. – James T Dec 12 '13 at 4:03
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    Therein lies the question. Every mason I have met is a Christian, yet, most reputable sources insist that they are not a Christian/religious group. – fredsbend Dec 12 '13 at 5:52
  • It's kind of like defending a negative. Imagine if I asked you in public and in front of a large crowd, "HAVE YOU STOPPED BEATING YOUR WIFE YET?" How do you answer that? "No, I never beat my wife" but people will jump on the first word. Or if you answer, "Yes, because I never beat her in the first place" someone will jump on the first word and say, "see, you did beat you wife and you admit it!" – The Freemason Dec 12 '13 at 14:27
  • I'll formulate my comments into an answer but am interested in understanding other's hostility. It's not even that people don't like Freemasonry (which I would be okay with) it's that people are hostile towards them and make incorrect and slanderous rumors which people assume are true. – The Freemason Dec 12 '13 at 14:31
  • @Freemasonthesatirist those aspects (where institutionalized) would be on topic IMO. – wax eagle Dec 12 '13 at 17:57
  • What do you think about this chat question? – fredsbend Dec 12 '13 at 20:09
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I'm going to hit this from three angles.

First

I'm going to agree with wax eagle's answer:

The most important question is "do Freemasons identify themselves as a Christian group?"

combined with freemason the satitirist's statement:

On the surface, no. Freemasonry is not a religion and even more so, it is not a Christian religion. The majority of members (especially in the US) are Christian and there are specific "side bodies" which require you to be Christian - but as a whole, it is not Christian.

and say that this is enough to address that questions about what freemasonry teaches are off-topic.

That's fairly straightforward in my mind.

Second

The question could be reworded as "What to Christians teach about freemasonry?", or "why do Christians say x about freemasonry?".

Those are a bit more of a gray area. Is it valid to ask what Christianity teaches about Freemasonry? Well, I'd stick to the principle in Is it valid to ask if “Christianity” teaches anything?. In short, not like that. That's just too broad. If you can make a nice, focused question, then it's probably on-topic. Example, "does the catholic Church have an official statement on whether it's allowed to be a Freemason" would be OK.

Third

Is it constructive? Are you trying to stir the pot?

I like to stir the pot as much as pretty much anyone else. I try to hide it on the main site and here, but I love a good debate, and I'll often make statements that are over-the-top just to start some fun and see what happens.

Likewise, I see a lot of questions here about certain non-mainstream denominations that seem to be trying to point out flaws in their beliefs. Questions that blatantly say "I don't believe any of that Joseph Smith nonsense" if you read between the lines.

Those questions make me shake my head and sigh, because they're clearly intentionally goading, but phrased in such a way that someone with an LDS perspective could respond and still be within guidelines.

I'd say that questions like that are on topic and fair, if the OP is allowing the LDS members to give a reasonable explanation for whatever difficulty the question describes.

However, I wouldn't say the same about questions about Freemasonry, because of the first point: This site isn't here to discuss the Freemason's teachings or point of view. So there is absolutely no way for a Freemason to refute or address any of the charges against Freemasonry while remaining on-topic.

That just doesn't seem fair to me.

I could argue that such questions are within bounds because of point 2, but from a standpoint of "StackExchange's mission is to make the Internet a better place", No. Playing within the rules while taking pot shots at others when the others have no recourse isn't making the Internet a better place. It's not a standard VTC reason, but if I see those, I'll be voting to use the custom close as "Off-topic because..." with the reason:

"Off-topic because StackExchange sites aren't the the right venue to take potshots at others' beliefs."

Which is in line with the guidance in the help center.

Be nice.

Civility is required at all times; rudeness will not be tolerated. Treat others with the same respect you’d want them to treat you because we’re all here to learn, together. Be tolerant of others who may not know everything you know, and bring your sense of humor.

So if you can stay within the bounds of points 1 and 2, and not violate point 3, you're probably in the clear.

  • @fredsbend, not that I think YOU would use the site to take potshots, that's an answer geared to head off potential future problems from those who would. – David Stratton Dec 14 '13 at 17:17
  • This is helpful, David. Now that I have a real question going on the site, let's see what happens. – fredsbend Dec 14 '13 at 20:43
  • "This site isn't here to discuss the Freemason's teachings or point of view. So there is absolutely no way for a Freemason to refute or address any of the charges against Freemasonry while remaining on-topic." You're absolutely correct and has been my experience so far. There was a question that has been delete about Freemasonry which I responded which ultimately was off topic as an answer because it's not related to Christianity. And you're right, it's just not far to not allow a reasonable defense however that defense may not be on topic for the site. – The Freemason Dec 14 '13 at 21:42
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I attempted to make my own Freemasonry.SE however it wasn't popular enough to proceed. There are two generations in Freemasonry which are not contiguous. There are Freemasons who are over 70 (generally over 80 and WWII vets) and there are 35 and younger members. The older and majority are generally not computer literate and have no use for social networking via the internet. So, starting a SE or even a Facebook page has an added level of challenge to gain members.

Do questions regarding Freemasonry fit Christianity.SE?

On the surface, no. Freemasonry is not a religion and even more so, it is not a Christian religion. The majority of members (especially in the US) are Christian and there are specific "side bodies" which require you to be Christian - but as a whole, it is not Christian.

With that said, some Christians are very anti-freemasonry and slanderous towards the fraternity. So then, IMHO, there should be a vehicle for Christians to ask about the relationship between Christianity and Freemasonry. Especially when Christians can be aggressive against Freemasonry - and many of them do not know why. From my experience it's been like this:

  • Oh, you're a Freemason?
  • Yes
  • Aren't Freemasons devil worshipers?
  • WTH? No. There could be devil worshipers who are Freemasons, but Freemasons are not devil worshipers.
  • Yes they are.
  • What makes you say that?
  • Because you are.

Quite often the Christians who are against Freemasonry are Catholic or Christian Fundamentalists. I'm very open about the fraternity and more than willing to explain what I see as conflicts between the orthodox Christian religion and the Fraternity. Specifically

2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Freemasonry as a fraternity promises to aid, support, and defend fellow members as far as truth, honor, and justice will allow. That is irregardless of their religion, race, or social class. If a Christian cannot belong to a group that non-Christians belong to, then Christians have no reason to be a police officer, in the military, or a doctor.

What does Freemasonry teach about religion?

Our lodge opens with the Holy Bible (as seen on the CBS clip). Our prayers during are meedings end with "in Jesus' name we pray" because our lodge is full of Christians. Should there be a Muslim visitor, we may end the prayer slightly differently as to not offend. Imagine if you wanted to pray in public. If you were at the nativity scene, you may end with "in Jesus' name we pray". If you were elsewhere and attempting to be non-confrontational, you may end in "in God we trust" or something similar.

Freemasonry allows people to become friends with those of other faiths. I would have never known how similar Islam is to Christianity w/o becoming friends with Muslims who are Freemasons (link to a question about them from me on Islam.SE). They are just like us. There are extremists who are Christian just like there are extremists who are Muslim, but the majority are in the middle (sometimes literally). The Qur'an is violent, so is the Bible. Both religions have been known to do evil things in the name of their religion to please (as they believe) God.

Freemasonry does however allow you to build your relationship with God in your own way, without dogma and without direction. Your denomination becomes less important as you learn that we're all worshiping the same God differently. This scares the crap out of pastors who are struggling to maintain membership for their salary. Imagine if we all (as I believe Jesus taught) were to pray away from the temples and priests but instead pray and communicate with friends and alone. Jesus himself prayed on a rock, I believe it is good enough for me too. However, I help out at 3 different churches of different denominations. Why? Because I believe that the naive need a place to start and I support them where I can.

Who are Freemasons today?

I won't talk about past presidents or owners of large automobile companies. However I will tell you who are members of my specific lodge. We have a Protestant Pastor, an Episcopal Rector, a speaker of the house of representatives, a former superintendent of the local school system, an architect, a contractor, and computer programmers (me). I have not met more pastors, fathers, etc on a personal level since I joined. When I ask them why they joined, mostly they give me the same response. It is a vehicle for them to be one of the guys. As you can imagine, a pastor has to always be on church mode when he's out in public. If he's at the supermarket, he may be stopped by a member of his church to pray for their sick cat or something. They really are never off the clock. However when they are in the lodge. Their voice is just as important as everyone else. They screw up their lines (parts we memorize and recite to each other in allegories / plays) just like everyone else and are humbled by it. Sometimes, we humans need that as to not become too proud or full of ourselves.

Why would anyone join?

"If you guys just dress up, socialize, and raise money for charities, why can't I just do that w/o paying for a membership?" The answer to that is simple, you can. Freemasonry takes a special type of geek to enjoy it. Generally we are introverts, intelligent, and free thinkers. Freemasonry is away that we can come out of our shell a bit and be social. You can join a small group session at church and get many of the same benefits w/o having annual dues. However, just like the pastor example, people generally have their "church faces" on. In the small group, you may have an itching question about something but you suppress it because you don't want to look stupid or go against / question the doctrine of your denomination. Whereas in Freemasonry these questions may be asked - as long as it's not within the lodge session but at a social event afterwards. During meetings, politics and religion are off topic and down voted worse that a bad SE post.

I am always willing to answer any questions that anyone may have. If I feel uncomfortable with answering a specific question, I may defer you to somewhere else. For example, you may ask me, "Do you guys do this for your EA ritual?" I would say that there are things online that probably shouldn't be online. I prefer to not talk about them, not because they're a secret but because I believe that when a person joins, he should have as little knowledge about the ritual as possible as to entertain and excite him. If you knew everything about it, why would you join?

I will tell you that there are several things that are not known which should be before you join. You should know in whom you place your trust because you will be asked ("Jesus Christ" is a perfectly good answer). You should know what the heel and hollow of your feet are.

  • This was interesting to read, but I don't see you leaning one way or the other if Freemasonry is on-topic for the site. As I see it now, the only thing that I see as on-topic would be debunking the crazy ideas about Freemasonry being religious. Your section that says "we are all worshiping the same God differently" surely comes with many questions that would be on-topic for this site, kind of, if that is "official teaching" of most of the lodges. – fredsbend Dec 12 '13 at 20:05
  • You know, I want to say that history that is even slightly related to Christianity should always be on-topic, so do you think this question in chat is on-topic? – fredsbend Dec 12 '13 at 20:08
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    I believe it is on topic when in the context of Christianity. Specifically where Freemasonry is at odds with Christianity. "Can a Freemason be a Christian?" Even in its worst case, that question is more about "Can a Christian lose salvation?" I feel that general questions about Freemasonry are offtopic as much as political question are offtopic. However the relationship between Christianity and Freemasonry is on topic. – The Freemason Dec 12 '13 at 20:40
  • Excellent. I think we will go with that. I will try to make a summarizing meta post then ask that chat question on the main site and see what happens. – fredsbend Dec 12 '13 at 20:42
  • I believe that the specific question of, "is Freemasonry a cult / occult" is not on topic because you are asking Christians to answer something that many of them do not know. However I would personally LOVE to understand why a Christian would feel compelled to ask such a question. – The Freemason Dec 12 '13 at 20:43
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    If I understand you correctly, Freemasonry is not a religion at all. It's only a community or organisation, where people from all religions are allowed. If this is correct, I don't think Freemasonry has anything to do with Christianity and not even related to Religion. But I still don't understand why you have to pray in your meetings. Is it compulsory to pray? Can an atheist be a Freemason? – Mawia Dec 13 '13 at 10:00
  • +1, but why did you add the satirist to your username? Is not 'Freemason' already enough to stay on here where several Christians see satirists as devils? – Elberich Schneider Dec 13 '13 at 22:04
  • @ElberichSchneider I'm not sure why I added that. I was in a mood for satire when I changed my name and didn't know that I had to wait 30 days to change it. I plan on changing it on the 20th (when I can). And no, I don't know why satire and a satirist would be considered devils by anyone nor was it my intent. – The Freemason Dec 14 '13 at 21:28
  • @Mawia atheists cannot be join in America. However from what I understand Freemasons in France can be atheists. Freemasonry is religious but not a religion. Imagine a non-denominational church function where people do not talk about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism but come together for a feast. We know there are differences between the denominations, but we will not discuss them during the feast. Now put that on a grander scale, where other religions can also meet. – The Freemason Dec 14 '13 at 21:36

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