Non christian Master of the lodge

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by JTM, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    So what are the TxGL laws in regards to the books on the altar?
     
  2. Mac

    Mac Moderator Premium Member

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    In the state where we still ask if the candidate believes in the divine authenticity of the Holy Scriptures? Good question, brother.

    I wouldn't be surprised if a provision for another book being on the altar during stated meetings didn't exist. During degrees, is their book of choice placed on top of the Holy Bible or next to it?
     
  3. Scotty32

    Scotty32 Registered User

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    Bible has to be up there, but what you saw last night I think will be the standard from now on
    as long as I'm in the East.
     
  4. Dow Mathis

    Dow Mathis Premium Member

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    So, umm, what did JTM see last night? (boy, there's a straight line if there ever was one) :D
     
  5. Brent Heilman

    Brent Heilman Premium Member

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    I had the same question.

    Sent from my iPhone using Freemasonry
     
  6. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    Does it make sense to place one sacred script on top of another? Even more, does it make sense to ask a man to pledge vows on a sacred script that means nothing or little to him personally?

    Masonry belongs to all good men of faith in deity worldwide. Read the GLoTx charges in the front of your law book. They don't vary from those of the masonry worldwide.

    Doesn't it make sense to have the sacred scriptures of any members present in the lodge placed on the alter? If it doesn't, I refer you back to the charges in the front of your law book. You know, the ones you pledged you would uphold.

    "to make good men better." There's growth involved there brethren and that's not always comfortable.
     
  7. chancerobinson

    chancerobinson Registered User

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    As far as I can tell Article 397 - Religious Belief and the third section of the Entered Apprentice lecture are the only references to books on the altar. Of course there is also Brother Albert Pike's discussion of the furniture of the lodge in the first chapter of Morals and Dogma, where he indicates that the Holy Bible is indispensable furniture in a Christian Lodge, just as the Pentateuch is in a Hebrew Lodge, and the Vedas are in a Hindu Lodge.

    ... and the divine authenticity of the Holy Scriptures is indispensably necessary before a candidate can be initiated, but this Grand Lodge does not presume to prescribe any canonical books or what part thereof are inspired.


    ... It is the policy of this Grand Lodge to permit a candidate whose religious persuasion is based upon other than the Holy Bible to be obligated upon the book of his chosen faith, and same may be situated upon the Altar in front of the Holy Bible during the conferral of the three degrees of Masonry.
     
  8. Mac

    Mac Moderator Premium Member

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    I find it contradictory to say that we only require of candidates that they be good men with a belief in a Supreme Being, but then require a belief in the divine authenticity of some writings. I guess in my mind I see Texas as being the state that would deny Ben Franklin because he was a deist and not a baptist.
     
  9. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    the question was not what i found acceptable but a question from my candidate.
     
  10. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    In Texas the bible must be on the alter and be the one with the Square and Compasses on it. The other book of faith would be open and next to the Bible. This is referenced in the Law Book article 397. This applies to the candidate but also applies when a brother of a different faith attends the Lodge. If you look at the list of items necessary for the lodge room included in Art. 223 it lists "1. Holy Bible, square and compasses (for Alter)." The two references here mean the Bible must at ALL times be on the Alter in Texas but we do allow other books of faith as well. I personally have seen several different ones and I am told that at one Scottish Rite function there have been as many as seven books of faith on the Alter.

    Art. 397. (434). Religious Belief. A firm belief in the existence
    of God, the immortality of the soul, and the divine authenticity of the
    Holy Scriptures is indispensably necessary before a candidate can
    be initiated, but this Grand Lodge does not presume to prescribe any
    canonical books or what part thereof are inspired. It is the policy of
    this Grand Lodge to permit a candidate whose religious persuasion
    is based upon other than the Holy Bible to be obligated upon the
    book of his chosen faith, and same may be situated upon the Altar
    in front of the Holy Bible during the conferral of the three degrees of
    Masonry. In which event, all esoteric references to “The Holy Bible”
    during the conferral of the degree(s) and the lessons appropriate
    thereto shall be substituted with “The Book of your (my) Faith.”
    (Revised 1995)
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011
  11. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    Thanks for bringing that article up, owls. This a question I had wondered the answer to myself, but wasn't sure about. Haven't encountered this particular issue yet, but I had certainly wondered, for curiosities sake. Didn't know what would have to the 'which I assure you is the Holy Bible' if it was, say, a Hindu being obligated. Very good. Wish I knew the lawbook as well as you.
     
  12. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    so what about a S&C on the other book?
     
  13. Mac

    Mac Moderator Premium Member

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    Based on the bit about substituting the words "book of your faith" for "Holy Bible," I would say the S&C would rest upon the candidate's book of faith and not the Holy Bible, otherwise certain parts of our ceremonies might not make sense as worded.
     
  14. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    I was personally told it stays on the bible during an open meeting but on the candidate's book of faith during a degree by a GL official but the true ruling would be given by the Grand Master in the form of an edict or ruling. I don't know that such written instruction exists. My recomendation is to submit a written letter to the Grand Lodge for a Grand Master's ruling so you may have it in written form. FYI, they do not respond to email.
     
  15. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    what about them being on both, i mean?

    i'll send that in, then. thx.
     
  16. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

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    We put the candidates book of faith on the bible under the square and compass just for the obligation and explanation. Then it is removed.
     
  17. Nate Riley

    Nate Riley Premium Member

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    I have always been a strong advocate that Freemasonry is not religious. While there are certain religious elements, absolute religious freedom is the most important teaching of the Lodge in the arena of religion (in my opinion). Secondly, I think Masonry draws a man closer to his religion without teaching any particular one. That is a beautiful thing.

    Masonry makes its appeal to good men of varying religions and assuming they meet certain requirements, those men should be welcomed with open arms.

    Considering all of this, it would be ineffective to have a man make his obligations on a book upon which he does not believe. The key (IMO) is to make the obligation binding. After all that is what makes us a Mason. As a Christian, taking my obligation on any book other that the Holy Bible would have the same effect of taking it on a Dictionary. The same is true of forcing a man who believes in another sacred text to take his obligation on the Holy Bible.
     
  18. dhouseholder

    dhouseholder Registered User

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    Did we ever get an answer to this? I'm interested too! :)
     
  19. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi All.

    Here in England, we have larger religious minorities than you do in Texas, and also UGLE has many overseas Lodges in non-Christian countries, so we've had a lot of experience on this issue. Maybe our practices are an interesting comparison.

    Our rule is that the Bible is always on the altar regardless, but also we may have other Books on the altar as appropriate for the faith(s) of those present (although this isn't obligatory except during Degrees). When we have other Books, they're placed alongside the Bible, not one on top of another because that's likely to offend someone. In some of our Asian Lodges (e.g. in India and Singapore) where there are usually several religions in the same Lodge, we'll commonly have half a dozen Books open on the altar throughout the meeting. The Koran is treated differently (wouldn't you just know it, eh?): in accordance with Islamic custom, the Koran is not to be opened or closed by Officers who might not by Moslems, so it is covered with a cloth for "closed" and uncovered (but still actually closed) for "open", and is only actually opened by a Moslem Candidate for his Obligation. (For all other faiths, the relevant Book is opened and closed in the same way as the Bible.)

    Although you permit Candidates of other faiths to take the Obligations on their own Book, we positively require it. This is for exactly the reason that Bro. Nate mentioned above: so that we can see that his Obligation is definitely binding upon his conscience.

    When Obligating a non-Christian Candidate, we usually place an additional S&C on his own Book, but leave the usual S&C on the Bible as well. When the Master is of a non-Christian faith, we'll often have a S&C on the Book of the Master's faith. These two points are customs, however, not rigid rules. (An interesting variation elsewhere is in Israel, where they usually have Jews and Moslems and Christians at every meeting - in Israel, they use one huge S&C which covers all three Books at once.)

    UGLE requires prospective Candidates to believe in "the G.A.O.T.U. and His revealed will", and in practice "His revealed will" means the divine authority of the Scriptures - but by that we mean the Scriptures of his own religion, whichever it is.

    An interesting difference is that GLTX also requires belief in the immortality of the soul, but UGLE doesn't require that. Obviously that makes no difference in most cases because most major religions do involve immortality of the soul, but very occasionally it might mean than we'd accept a Candidate whom you wouldn't accept.

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  20. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    That's fascinating. I think one of my life long goals is to visit a mixed faith lodge in Israel.

    Thanks for the information, Huw, good to get another perspective on things!
     

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