[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: January 2003

Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 03 Jan 2003 23:40:10 -0600
To: masonry-ask@mit.edu
From: Sarah Iverson <sarah-iverson-1@uiowa.edu>
Subject: Masonry Question

Dear Sir:

I recently came across your website (http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/) about Freemasonry. It is very informative. I knew virtually nothing about Freemasonry and the site answered a lot of questions.

However, I was wondering why it is required that members believe in a Supreme Being. I am Christian and so cannot speak authoritatively on atheism, but those atheists that I do know are of good, sound moral character and have very much the same values as any God-worshipping man.

It seems to me that a LACK of religious preference does not affect morality or character any more than a DIFFERENCE of religious preference. Perhaps you can please provide some insight on this matter.

I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Sarah Iverson

To: Sarah Iverson <sarah-iverson-1@uiowa.edu>
Subject: Re: Masonry Question
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Fri, 03 Jan 2003 23:40:10 CST."

Dear Ms Iverson,

Thanks for writing. Your question is excellent and I will try to give a good answer.

I agree with you that a belief in a (or the?) Supreme Being is not necessary to being a moral good person. As nearly as I can understand it, that is not why Masonry has that requirement. Instead, it is that the philosophy behind Masonry assumes the existence of the Supreme Being, and is based on that.

Masonry uses the metaphor of stone-masons participating in a complex building project, like the construction of a mediaeval cathedral or King Solomon's temple, all under the plan and direction of the master architect, and compares that to human life: that we are all working under the direction of the Great Architect of the Universe, who has created us as capable of becoming skilled workers, and with all of the world and nature available for providing knowledge and instruction.

Now with that kind of metaphor, the atheist who joined Masonry would just be wasting his time. All of the teachings would be useless to him.

Look, if someone comes to a sky-diving school and says "I want to learn to swim", you don't sign him up. You say, "this isn't the place to learn that. Try the YMCA." You're not offering what he's interested in. He doesn't want what you have. It would be wrong to sign him up.

That's pretty much it. What do you think?

| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA (PM)
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  | Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden, MA (PM)
| w: 617.253-0184 f: 617.258-6875 | Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge, MIT, MA
|  "A Page About Freemasonry"     | Internet Lodge #9659, E. Lancs UGLE   
|  http://mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/ | 32~; MPS; B'hood o/t Blue Forget-Me-Not 
|                                 | RWG Rep.GL Russia near GL Massachusetts 
| "...one sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|  whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|  or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."

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