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Christianity and the Lodge: Jesus Christ or Hiram Abiff, by William Whalen

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Christianity and the Lodge

by William Whalen

Jesus Christ or Hiram Abiff

When a Catholic abandons his faith and joins the Masonic sect the Church recognizes his switch of allegiance and considers him excommunicated. The Church would be untrue to her divine commission if she were to turn her back and pretend that her sons can serve two masters. Protestant churches which acknowledge the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ and the religious basis of the lodge follow a similar course.

We believe that anyone who has followed our discussion to this point will agree that this is the only course of action which a Christian denomination can pursue. The Masonic lodge may avoid anticlerical activities in certain nations, may support commendable charitable undertakings, may disclaim its own religious orientation. Nevertheless the Christian knows that he cannot worship the Triune God on Sunday morning and the Grand Architect on lodge night. He knows he cannot participate in religious worship with non-Christians praying to T.G.A.O.T.U. and still observe Christ's command to ask the Father in His name.

Masonic friends may assure us that the lodge itself does not bar Catholics from membership and that nothing detrimental to the Church has ever been voiced in their Temples. This may very well be true, but it is quite beside the point. Christians do not feel free to become Buddhists simply because Buddhists may refrain from attacking Christianity. They do not become Buddhists or Moslems because Christ, not Buddha or Mohammed, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

For all Masonry cares the Bible might never have been written, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity never have become man or died for man's sins, never have instituted the sacraments or established a Church. Masonry relegates these to the categories of "sectarian" and "peculiar" dogmas and those who believe in them are warned not to drag them into the Temples of Masonry's universal religion. Masonry carries man back to a pre-Christian reliance on human reason alone with absolutely no reference to the Christian revelation. We readily admit that a belief in God and in the immortality of the soul is better than atheism. Masonry, however, does not labor to convert twentieth-century atheists and agnostics to theism; the lodge offers Christian men a pre-Christian religious worship, theology, and morality.

What possible advantages would a Christian see in the lodge which would induce him to deny the claims of Jesus Christ and seek admission into Masonry? We find a number of such advantages dangled before prospective members of the lodge but none of these withstand examination.

In the first place, the lodge promises to make its initiates privy to great secrets. They will be "in" while the rest of mankind, including most of Christendom, will sit in the darkness outside. Nowhere does Masonry promise more and deliver less; the great secrets of the lodge are neither great nor secret. Are these the secrets of the universe? Are these secrets too blinding in brilliance for the minds of women, children, and the "profane"? Are they the keys to spiritual, physical, and mental happiness? Alas, they consist of a few passwords and secret grips and ritual mumbo jumbo. The dissatisfied Master Mason must be enticed by the carrot of higher and higher degrees to find the secrets he expected in the Blue Lodge. He never does.

What is more, the secrets for which he has paid in the coin of the realm and in hours of fruitless memorization are not even secret. He should have known that real secrets in a mass organization of 4,000,000 men are illusory. Anyone with curiosity about the subject can easily procure all the genuine Masonic rituals he wishes. Recently, a friend of the author, a rabbi, complained that he had wasted evening after evening deciphering the King Solomon's code book for his Blue Lodge initiation and did not find out until later that he could have purchased the ritual in plain English at a bookstore a few blocks from the Masonic Temple. It happens that publishers and vendors of Masonic books, like their profane colleagues, are in business to make money and not to preserve inconsequential lodge secrets.

Other candidates for the lodge are attracted by the promise of preference. Once they become eligible to wear the Masonic ring or lapel button certainly their business will pick up, they will sell more life insurance, they will gain more patients or clients. Perhaps if they get into legal difficulties they will find a brother Mason on the bench or in the jury box. And should they decide to run for public office they will enjoy the electoral support of their brethren of the white apron.

A minute's analysis will destroy this illusion. In many communities, particularly in the Eastern part of the country, the Mason who flaunts his affiliation may well antagonize as many customers and voters as he expects to win. In many Southern communities where most white Protestant bourgeoisie are already members, he cannot expect such preferential treatment since most of his competitors also wear the square and compass. Elsewhere the Mason may find some doors open to him which would have otherwise remained shut and he may pick up a few votes which would have gone to the opposition candidate. He would be foolish to think, however, that more than a handful of Americans make it a practice to investigate lodge membership in their complex daily activities. Will the 32nd degree Mason who sells tainted meat or weighs his thumb with the pork chops continue to attract his lodge brothers to his shop? Will the bleeding victim of the highway accident seek the proper password from the physician who comes to his aid? Will the Mason be happy to pay $100 extra to buy his next Ford from the Worshipful Master? Will General Motors or RCA pay a higher dividend to stockholders who belong to the lodge? And do normal people stop to debate: "Between two men of equal ability, I will choose the one who belongs to the same lodge as I do." No one need fear that if he gives a good haircut, sells merchandise of quality, writes readable magazine articles, serves a tasty meal he will suffer in his business relationships because he lacks a Masonic pin.

We do not wish to deprecate Masonic benevolence, another so called advantage to membership, but we feel we should again stress that there is no comparison between the charity of the Christian churches and that of the lodge. While the lodge carefully limits its disbursements to those who are paid up members, the Church extends her charity to all: men and women, young and old, white and black. The lodge takes pains to exclude women, children, Negroes, the poor, crippled, and senile from its Temples. The only ones who are accepted for Masonic membership are those who are most unlikely ever to need charitable assistance "If ye love them that love you, what thanks have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?" Anyone so foolish as to rely on the lodge for help in adversity would do better to put his dues and assessments into insurance, annuities, common stocks, bonds, bank deposits, or real estate. During a serious depression Masons desert the lodge by the hundreds of thousands and the average of $3 per member per year for charity drops to pennies. On the other hand, one who is looking for opportunities to serve his fellow man need not look for them in the lodge. He can find abundant opportunities in his church, in youth work, in service clubs, and in similar groups.

Good fellowship is another promise which the lodge makes its candidates and we will not deny that such fellowship flourishes in many lodges. It should. Practically all the members fall into the same social class: white, Protestant, bourgeois. Such jarring topics as religion and politics are outlawed. "Nonconformists" may be disposed of by means of the black ball. Again, what a difference between the exclusive lodge and the all embracing Church of

Christ which turns no one from her doors. What no one can seriously propose, however, is that any man looking for companionship must find it in the Masonic lodge. Even the smallest country village supports dozens of clubs and social organizations which fill man's gregarious needs. A person can choose a church society such as the Holy Name Society or Legion of Mary, a veterans' organization such as the VFW or the American Legion, a service club such as the Lions or Kiwanis, a trade union, and a bewildering assortment of bridge and poker clubs, P.T.A.'s, discussion groups, Catholic Action organizations, square dance groups, stamp clubs, etc.

Finally, some men are wooed into the lodge by simple vanity, by the opportunity to claim grandiose titles, to command a respect that they do not find in their own homes or in their occupations. Some find an escape from an oppressively feminine social life in the all-male lodge.

Although we believe that Masonry ultimately undermines the Christian basis of society, propagates an insidious religion of naturalism and the spirit of religious indifference, administers an immoral oath, and often engages in or tolerates anticlericalism, we have a Christian obligation to love Masons. When we deny the compatibility of the lodge and the Christian faith we do not question the sincerity of Protestant Masons but their consistency. It seems that many of us reveal a lack of consistency in many areas of our lives. We are scientific about one subject and superstitious about another. We harbor mutually incompatible political and economic theories but we compartmentalize our lives so that our inconsistencies do not show.

Catholics along with many Protestant and Eastern Orthodox know of the basic incompatibility of Church and lodge because this has long been demonstrated by their religious leaders. We pray that those who receive no such guidance from their churches in this matter will investigate for themselves the mutually exclusive claims of Jesus Christ and the Grand Architect. "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father who hath sent Him" (Jn. 5:23).

Taken from "Christianity and American Freemasonry" by William J. Whalen published by Bruce Publishing Company, 1958

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