"Religious Requirements"

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by Bloke, May 23, 2018.

  1. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    It is universal within regular Freemasonry that an applicant must have a belief in a "Supreme Being"

    I heard a Freemason today speak of the "religious requirements for being a Freemason".

    This is obviously wrong; there are no religious requirements for becoming a Freemason, one does not have to be a member of an organized Religion to hold a Belief in a Supreme Being.

    So, what language does your Grand or Regular Lodge use to describe this ?

    Do you talk of "spiritual requirements" (does not sound right to me), "requirement of faith" (sounds closer).

    I tend to talk about "being a man of faith" but it sounds very churchy...

    Can you equip me better to talk about the requirement that an applicant for (regular) Freemasonry must have a Belief in a Supreme Being ?

    I am not looking for the nuances of this - but a good opening line other than "must have a belief in a supreme being.."

    I'd appreciate your help Brothers..
     
  2. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    I say that our requirement for a belief in a supreme being does count as a religious requirement. Notice the word religious does not imply having any one religion. We don't require a man to have a religion, but belief is definitely a religious choice.

    I do informally use the term "men of faith".

    I find it interesting that only a few religions in history have required faith but Masonry does require faith. I've never been sure whether that helps to separate us from religions in general or helps tie us to the few who do require faith. In Masonry there are many conundrums of this sort so I just see it as one conundrum among many.
     
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  3. goomba

    goomba Neo-Antient Site Benefactor

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  4. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Perhaps for your jurisdiction. However, in mine, from our Digest of Masonic Law, it is definitely a Religious "Prerequisite"; which makes it by default, a "Religious Requirement".

    RELIGIOUS BELIEF... ...Regulations

    31.16 Belief in God is the only religious prerequisite
    of a candidate for Initiation into Masonry, but a Mason is bound by his tenure to obey the moral law.

    Page 257
     
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  5. Elexir

    Elexir Registered User

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    The line "no religious requirements for becoming a Freemason" is true in most but not all.

    "You must belive there is something higher then yourself" seems as a good opening for a disscusion.
     
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  6. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    As much as I hate saying things like "I heard", I cannot for the life of me remember the specifics. But, as I recall, there are a few jurisdictions within the United States which do require a candidate to belong to a religion. While it doesn't care what religion that is, it requires one. I remember reading that and being disappointed because I knew that had I lived in that state, I would not be able to join as I do not follow any particular religion.
     
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  7. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    I’m unaware of any GLsbin the US which require a candidate to belong to a religion. There are some with additional religious requirements.
     
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  8. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    I should've known better than to write that without finding where I remembered it from first. Now I'll be spending the rest of my day trying to find it. But, that's what I get for posting hearsay.
     
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  9. MarkR

    MarkR Premium Member

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    From the Minnesota Masonic Manual:

    "To become a petitioner for the degrees in Masonry, a man must believe and trust in God."

    There is a place on the petition where those conditions must be acknowledged.
     
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  10. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Thanks Doug - I think when the word religion is used, it must be associated with Organized Religion, and we don't have that.. mind you, our VSLs are prescribed - which sort of supports what you say, but we can still admit a candidate who says "I dont believe in religion but I believe in God"
     
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  11. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    "Belief in God is the only religious prerequisite of a candidate for Initiation into Masonry," - That works quite well... thanks Coach...
     
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  12. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    It might be, but the person might be thinking science or Michael Jordan, I think there needs to be some supernatural element to the belief in something higher... teasing out what a "Supreme Being" means to the applicant is important. I got one once who when pushed said it was money !
     
  13. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    "To become a petitioner for the degrees in Masonry, a man must believe and trust in God." - I like it.
     
  14. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I am developing my words. For instance, in an initial conversation if process comes up, for someone who seems skittish, I don't say "the lodge will ballot" or vote, I say "the lodge will them make a determination on your application".

    I am a big believer in being as transparent as possible about what happens before a man enters the door (and for casual readers, that's not because I want to be evasive about what happens after, but because its like telling your wife where you are taking her for a surprise dinner - it compromises the experience :) )
     
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  15. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    And thanks again to all, I very much appreciate your assistance and thoughts.
     
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  16. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    What's important is the word yes on the petition. As such teasing out what a "Supreme Being" is, is important the the *candidate*. This is a subtle but important distinction. It's a subject the candidate has to work through to a point of comfort before petitioning.

    For a member of a monotheistic religion working through the topic tends to be easy. Especially since most monotheist religions demand belief.

    There are religions that don't care about deity - Get a practicing Buddhist out of the building to be able to discuss the topic and the interesting discussion revolved around the words "believe" or "exist".

    There are religions that view deity as many - Get a practicing Druid or Asatru out of the building to be able to discuss the topic and the interesting discussion revolved around the word "Supreme". Yet some polytheist religions like neo-Hellenia make it easy - Zeus is in charge. Done. With the fun caveat that there never has been a polytheist religion that demanded belief so just being a member doesn't qualify to say yes on a petition. In that sense there's overlap with religions like Buddhism.

    Whichever way it works, it was the candidate who needed to work through the topic not the committee. The committee just needs to make sure the candidate has indeed worked through the topic to the candidate's own satisfaction. We need to make sure that yes is an honest opinion not someone checking a box because that box has to be checked to get in. We need to make sure the candidate has decided to be a man of faith, however that's worded on the forms of our jurisdiction.
     
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  17. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Long ago one of my best friends asked about this topic. He didn't "believe in churches". It took a lot of lunch discussions to work through the issue with him. He believes in God but did not want to deal with human institutions. Once we reached that point I handed him his petition. At some point after his degrees he softened his position on churches and started attending occasionally.

    This sounds like someone's expectation not having studied the actual requirement. I certain *expect* a man to have a religion, though I'm not much interested in which one. Because nearly everyone who believes is a member of some religion at least nominally it's a reasonable expectation. But it's only a starting point. The actual requirement does allow men of faith who aren't members of any one religion.

    Maybe there's a jurisdiction that does require membership explicitly on their forms. None of mine do.
     
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  18. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    I agree with that you say - when I applied and my proposer presented a petition form - I got to "acknowledge my belief in a Supreme Being and offer myself as a candidate for Freemasonry" I stopped and said I could have to take the form away and reflect before I could sign it. It did not take long and I signed.. but I guess it is one way Freemasonry brings us closer to our faith - we have to affirm it and being men of character, we only affirm what we beliefs- and hence we have to reflect on our beliefs.. I use the same approached, telling a candidate he will have to reflect and search his heart, but also that Freemasonry is not a Religion, but , like Parliament, it opens with a pray, and as Parliament is not a religions proceeding but acknowledges that there is a God, so do Freemasons lodges open with a prayer and acknowledge the existence of a Higher Power, and the whole thing will ring false to an atheist and (regular) Freemasonry is not really an organisation for them..

    We have Hindus in our lodges - for the same reason, despite being polytheistic, they will will generally have a Supreme Being, Buddhists can be less sure - it depends on the Buddhist they follow.

    I like this "Belief in God is the only religious prerequisite of a candidate for Initiation into Masonry" and "To become a petitioner for the degrees in Masonry, a man must believe and trust in God." - both work very well for my Constitution..
     
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  19. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    I am always amused by "a Supreme Being". How many are there?
     
  20. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Apparently one; because of the use of "a" Supreme Being..
     

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