Monday, December 13, 2010
Is Freemasonry Secular Humanism?
What is the position of Liberal European Freemasonry regarding religion? When the Grand Orient of France decided in 1877 to remove the requirement that a candidate profess a belief in God this is how they defined their position:
"Whereas Freemasonry is not a religion and has therefore no
doctrine or dogma to affirm in its constitution, this Assembly has
decided and decreed that the second paragraph of Article 1, of the
Constitution (requiring a belief in Deity) shall be erased, and that for the words
of the said article the following shall be substituted:
"Being an Institution essentially philanthropic, philosophic, and
progressive, Freemasonry has for its object, search after truth,
study of universal morality, science and arts, and the practice of
benevolence. It has for its principles absolute liberty of
conscience and human solidarity. It excludes no person on account
of his belief, and its motto is 'Liberty, Equality and
The following statement is attributed to a member of the Grand Orient of France in the article, "The Grand Orient of France and the Three Great Lights" published in the Builder, January, 1918:
"The Grand Orient of France, while it respects all philosophical
beliefs, insists upon absolute liberty of belief. This does not
mean that we banish from our lodges the belief in God. The United
Grand Lodge of England on the contrary desires to make a belief in
God in some manner compulsory. The Grand Orient of France is much
more liberal, since in proclaiming the absolute liberty of belief
it permits to each one of its members the liberty to believe or not
to believe in God, and by so doing desires to respect its members
in their convictions, their doctrines and their beliefs."
From these statements do we draw the conclusion that the Grand Orient of France is an atheistic, or secular humanist institution? I think not.
There has been a trend of late in some quarters of Liberal Freemasonry here in the United States to equate Freemasonry with secular humanism, and to celebrate the participation of well-known atheists with the order. It is my personal belief that this is a mistaken policy, one which will eventually come back to haunt those that are encouraging it.
Religion, or the lack thereof, has absolutely no place in Freemasonry. Whether a candidate is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, or a Wiccan, is irrelevant to that persons becoming a Mason, joining the Navy, or being a member of the PTA. Most Liberal Masons would agree with this position. Why then do some insist that Freemasonry and Secular Humanism are natural allies?
According to the American Humanist Association, one of their principles is to be:
"Without theism and free of supernaturalism"
According to the Council for Secular Humanism, it is committed:
"to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions."
For those Brothers and Sisters that are theists, faith, and even forms of mysticism (depending on the particular faith) are valid means of seeking solutions to "important human questions".
As a Freemason in the tradition of the Grand Orient of France, I support any brother that wholeheartedly subscribes to the positions of the AHA and the CSH. He has the right to his belief.
By the same token, I fully support the right of a sister to pray the rosary each day because she believes that is an action pleasing to God. It is her right to believe that.
When any jurisdiction takes an official stance in support of Atheism or Secular Humanism, that obedience is walking on thin ice; it is departing from the traditional position of Liberal, European Freemasonry in my opinion. This is unwise, deters people of faith from approaching the order, and gives further ammunition to the mainstream Grand Lodges who have always contended that Grand Orient Freemasonry is hostile to religion. Freemasonry "excludes no person on account of his belief". I wonder how comfortable a devoutly religious brother would feel seeing another brother publicly ridicule (or blaspheme) his beliefs?
Very poor judgment I think.