Harvest House Publishers
—Francis G. Paul, Thirty-Third-Degree Sovereign Grand Commander
Masonry (also known as Freemasonry, or “the Lodge”) is a powerful, 2-million-member, centuries-old fraternal order that began in the early eighteenth century. According to most Masonic authorities, modern Masonry (also called speculative Masonry) can be traced to the founding of the first Grand Lodge in London in A.D. 1717 (70,I:131,152; 1:3; 15:12).
The Lodge is also a secret society. To maintain its secrets, Masonry uses symbolism, secret oaths, and secret rituals to instruct new members, who are called initiates. Each new member swears during these secret ceremonies to remain loyal to the Lodge and its teachings. The teachings instruct each new candidate how he is to serve God and his fellow man and tell him of the rewards he can expect. The symbols of Masonry are the actual tools of the old stonecutters and builders, such as the gavel, compass, plumb, square, and level, which are employed to inculcate moral and religious lessons.
Let us examine the definition of Masonry as given by Masons themselves. Albert Mackey, in his Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, asserts “All [Masons] unite in declaring it to be a system of morality, by the practice of which its members may advance their spiritual interest, and mount by the theological ladder from the Lodge on earth to the Lodge in heaven” (96,I:269).
Additional authoritative definitions are as follows:
It is a science which is engaged in the search after Divine Truth, and which employs symbolism as its method of instruction (96,I:269).
[Masonry is] that religious and mystical society whose aim is moral perfection on the basis of general equality and fraternity (96,I:269).
Freemasonry, in its broadest and most comprehensive sense, is a system of morality and social ethics, a primitive religion, and a philosophy of life,...incorporating a broad humanitarianism;...it is a religion without a creed, being of no sect but finding truth in all;...it seeks truth but does not define truth (36:234).
A man who becomes a Mason is defined by Masonic authorities as being “one who has been initiated into the mysteries of the fraternity of Freemasonry” (96,I:378).
What we present in this book is an analysis of Masonry itself, as laid out by Masonic authorities recommended to us by half of the Grand Lodges in the United States (see question 2). The Grand Lodge of each state (and the District of Columbia) sets the ritual and the interpretation of that ritual that is to be followed by the members of that state. Although each Grand Lodge is the final authority for each state, a comparison shows little difference overall either in the ritual or in the interpretation of the ritual, though placement of materials may vary (182).
The influence of Masonry remains considerable despite significant losses in membership over the last few decades, and declining influence and prestige. Membership has declined from four million (in the period from 1952 to 1970) to about 2 to 2.5 million today (1.7 million in the U.S.)—although this may not include a significant membership in the many appendant organizations (183). According to the most recent statistics available (June 2001), Masonry retains about 22,000 lodges in some 70 countries. Of 192 countries in the world, almost 40 percent have Masonic Grand Lodges (184). In addition, there are literally thousands of Masonic Web sites (some 1,700 Masonic and appendant sites are listed at the “E-M@son Link System,” and thousands of Masonic sites are also listed at two other megasites) (187).
In Behind the Lodge Door, Paul A. Fisher, who has a background in military and other intelligence, asserts that Masonry has “enormous influence in the world media” and that it influenced or dominated the U.S. Supreme Court for more than 30 years. The ratio (Masons to non-Masons) was 5 to 4 (1941–46), 8 to 1 (1949–56), 6 to 3 (1957–67), and 5 to 4 (1969–71) (121:1-17, 242-44, 260-68). According to one Lodge history compiled by Paul Bessel, Executive Secretary of the Masonic Leadership Center, from 1789 to 1992 about one-third of the Supreme Court Justices have apparently been Masons. (However, from1992 to the present, for the first time there is apparently not a single Mason sitting on the Court.) (188)
According to Masonic sources, as many as 14 U.S. presidents have been Masons, and 14 vice presidents as well. According to the Senate Congressional Record of September 9, 1987, Masons constituted 41 members of the federal judiciary, 50 percent of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 18 senators, and 76 members of the House of Representatives. Among the famous and influential of the world, the Masonic list reads like a who’s who: Sir Winston Churchill, W.C. Fields, Henry Ford, Norman Vincent Peale, Luther Burbank, Benjamin Franklin, Barry Goldwater, J. Edgar Hoover, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Lindbergh, General Douglas MacArthur, Peter Marshall, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Roy Rogers, all seven of the Ringling Brothers, and too many others to list (189).
If anyone is going to investigate the teachings of the Masonic Lodge, who or what is the accepted authority they should listen to? When, on our television program, we asked this question of Mr. Bill Mankin, a thirty-second-degree Mason, he said, “The authoritative source for Masonry is the ritual. The ritual—what happens in the Lodge, what goes on” (1:3,5).
When one examines Masonry and compares the different manuals containing the ritual for each state (these textbooks are called monitors), it is apparent that, at least today, the ritual and the interpretations given are very close. As former Worshipful Master Jack Harris comments, “In other states...the principle and the doctrines [of the ritual] are exactly the same. The wording only varies slightly” (13:29). Therefore, the ritual in the monitors can be considered the authoritative teachings of the Lodge.
But we also wanted to know which authors and books Masons themselves recommend to outsiders as authoritative. In order to answer this question, we sent a letter to each of the 51 Grand Lodges in America. The letter was addressed to the Grand Master of each, asking him to respond to the following question: “As an official Masonic leader, which books and authors do you recommend as being authoritative on the subject of Freemasonry?” Twenty-five of the 51 Grand Lodges in the United States responded.* (Remember, for each state there is no higher authority than its Grand Lodge.)
* Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin.
Excerpted from Fast Facts on the Masonic Lodge By John Ankerberg and John Weldon. Copyright © 2004 by Harvest House Publishers. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.