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samson7

Religion and supreme being requirement

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Hello everyone,

New guy here and I have a question.

I wouldn't say I belong to any specific religion. I do, however, believe in a higher presence at work in the universe, cosmos, etc. that originally set things in motion, giving all things order/structure/purpose and continues to exist in all life.

Whether or not this presence is a being, a force, etc. I cannot yet say but I believe there is a higher power. 

Having shared my belief, does this disqualify me from joining the Free Masons? I know it doesn't exactly fit into any established religion so I recognize I might have an issue here regarding qualifying for membership.

-Sam

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Hi Sam
You are probably going to get some heated answers to this question.

You can clearly answer "yes" when you are asked at your interview "Do you believe in a Supreme Being?" No further information is required so don't say any more than that. When you are initiated, and when you take higher degrees, you are required to take an Obligation on the Volume of the Sacred Law. This is usually the Bible although certain other sacred texts are allowed for members of various faiths. Provided that you are happy to take Obligations on the Bible there is no problem. If you aren't, or if you feel uncomfortable with a theistic approach, involving prayers to the Great Architect, then Freemasonry isn't suitable for you.

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Just to clarify Barry's answer; when he says 'the Bible', that can either be just the old Testament, or the Christian Bible comprising both the Old & New Testaments.

You don't give any indication of where you are, so we can only answer for the 3 Constitutions here in the UK; the specific requirements in the US for example, are likely to be different in their interpretation of what constitutes a Volume of the Sacred Law (this forum is in the UK). Some of them also ask for, and require a belief in the afterlife - a question that isn't asked here. Similarly, in Sweden, membership requires you to be a Christian.

Edited by Sontaran
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Hi Sam,

As you're in the US you may struggle as it is my understanding that some Grand Lodges out there require a bit more than just belief in a supreme being. It would be best for you to search for the grand lodge of the state where you live and you should find the qualifications.

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Thank you all for the great replies!

I am in California, United States.

I do not mind taking an oath on a Bible/sacred text at all. I'm not against Christianity or any of the Abrahamic religions in any way. 

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In England Ireland and Scotland the following applies:

Aims and Relationships of the Craft

Article 3.  'The first condition of admission into, and membership of, the Order is a belief in the Supreme Being,  This is essential and admits of no compromise'.

Article 4.  It is necessary for a candidate to take his obligation 'on that Volume which is held by his particular creed to impart sanctity to an oath or promise taken upon it'.

There have been attempts by people being rather woolly about this and saying he believes in some higher power but there's no specific Volume of His revealed will.  Doesn't work.  Another example is when a prospective member, when asked, says: 'It depends on what you mean by 'God'.'  The correct rejoinder by the interviewer is: 'No, it depends on what you mean by 'God'.'  Again, doesn't work.

To Sam: this is serious stuff.  It's a long-term, life-changing commitment.  Many don't think it is, so they cannot enjoy what Freemasonry can offer.

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2 minutes ago, samson7 said:

Thank you all for the great replies!

I am in California, United States.

I do not mind taking an oath on a Bible/sacred text at all. I'm not against Christianity or any of the Abrahamic religions in any way. 

Sam, it's not a question of 'not minding' using a Bible or other sacred volume.  It is a question of whether or not you believe it expresses His revealed will.  Otherwise your obligation taken upon it is worthless.

It would be helpful to hear your reasons for wanting to join.  But remember, this forum is for English, Scots and Irish Freemasons and things are very different under your California jurisdiction, even though it is recognised as legitimate by us.  You would be better off talking to them.

All good wishes for success.

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Trouillogan, you actually bring up a great point that was on my mind. If I do take an oath/obligation on a sacred/religious text of which religion I do not subscribe do, am I in a way committing a dishonorable act? The first answer that comes to my mind is "yes".

That said, I have nothing against the Abrahamic religions, for example, and I've read the Bible, Quran, and the Torah and I believe there are instances within those texts that do express the will of this higher power we speak of. 

So it's an interesting situation I suppose. I do recognize this is serious and I in no way mean to lighthearted in any way.

Edited by samson7

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2 hours ago, samson7 said:

Trouillogan, you actually bring up a great point that was on my mind. If I do take an oath/obligation on a sacred/religious text of which religion I do not subscribe do, am I in a way committing a dishonorable act? The first answer that comes to my mind is "yes".

I guess a question that needs to be asked is this: Why are you wanting to join the Freemasons?

As a brotherhood that has a requirement for a belief in the GAotU, and based on morality and strict personal virtue, I respectfully suggest that anything other than an unequivocal "Yes" to the Question is merely deceiving yourself, and those who would be sharing your masonic journey.

Edited by Not quite so Uninitiated
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On 29/03/2021 at 04:28, samson7 said:

Trouillogan, you actually bring up a great point that was on my mind. If I do take an oath/obligation on a sacred/religious text of which religion I do not subscribe do, am I in a way committing a dishonorable act? The first answer that comes to my mind is "yes".

That said, I have nothing against the Abrahamic religions, for example, and I've read the Bible, Quran, and the Torah and I believe there are instances within those texts that do express the will of this higher power we speak of. 

So it's an interesting situation I suppose. I do recognize this is serious and I in no way mean to lighthearted in any way.

What you describe is not a new situation at all and, in English Freemasonry there is a specific path to be followed.  What happens in California, I wouldn't know.  However, the same principles apply to all Grand Lodges recognised by us on this side of the pond.  Having said that, I should explain that there are many groups around the world, including in the USA, claiming to be Freemasons but which are entirely irregular.

Please forgive me repeating Article 4. of our English, Irish and Scottish 'Aims and Relationships of the Craft' by which we are all bound.  I do so, so as to explain it further.

'Article 4.  It is necessary for a candidate to take his obligation 'on that Volume which is held by his particular creed to impart sanctity to an oath or promise taken upon it'.

This means that for a Jew we must provide an Old Testament; for a Mohammedan, a Koran; for a Hindu, a Bhagvada Gita, etc., etc.  It might well happen that a Mohammedan or a Hindu, to avoid embarrassment, would say 'Don't worry; a New Testament will do just as well'.  If we allowed that, we would be compounding a felony!  We are bound to obligate him on the Holy Book which is sacred to his faith.  You see, without that fundamental foundation stone having been firmly and solidly laid, what you seek to achieve in Freemasonry cannot take place.

As I say, the situation in California may well be different but don't be surprised if the view taken is the same.

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On 28/03/2021 at 22:36, Not quite so Uninitiated said:

I guess a question that needs to be asked is this: Why are you wanting to join the Freemasons?

As a brotherhood that has a requirement for a belief in the GAotU, and based on morality and strict personal virtue, I respectfully suggest that anything other than an unequivocal "Yes" to the Question is merely deceiving yourself, and those who would be sharing your masonic journey.

I want to join for many reasons. I want to be part of something whose fundamentals are couched in ancient traditions of honor and integrity and the pursuit of wisdom/knowledge and one that recognizes there is a higher power in the universe who has given order and structure to all life, nature, etc.

I want to be among others who share this pursuit and who still respect tradition and loyalty and recognize that we're part of something much bigger and to seek to understand why.

12 hours ago, Trouillogan said:

What you describe is not a new situation at all and, in English Freemasonry there is a specific path to be followed.  What happens in California, I wouldn't know.  However, the same principles apply to all Grand Lodges recognised by us on this side of the pond.  Having said that, I should explain that there are many groups around the world, including in the USA, claiming to be Freemasons but which are entirely irregular.

Please forgive me repeating Article 4. of our English, Irish and Scottish 'Aims and Relationships of the Craft' by which we are all bound.  I do so, so as to explain it further.

'Article 4.  It is necessary for a candidate to take his obligation 'on that Volume which is held by his particular creed to impart sanctity to an oath or promise taken upon it'.

This means that for a Jew we must provide an Old Testament; for a Mohammedan, a Koran; for a Hindu, a Bhagvada Gita, etc., etc.  It might well happen that a Mohammedan or a Hindu, to avoid embarrassment, would say 'Don't worry; a New Testament will do just as well'.  If we allowed that, we would be compounding a felony!  We are bound to obligate him on the Holy Book which is sacred to his faith.  You see, without that fundamental foundation stone having been firmly and solidly laid, what you seek to achieve in Freemasonry cannot take place.

As I say, the situation in California may well be different but don't be surprised if the view taken is the same.

I appreciate the clarification and I definitely understand what you're saying. I too see a problem with taking an obligation on a sacred text that I don't necessarily subscribe to. Logically, it doesn't feel right, let alone morally/spiritually. I shall reflect on this. 

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FWIW Samson, I wish many others would take the same stance you are, and I sincerly hope you're successful in finding what you're looking for,

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I don't doubt your sincerity, Sam, but whatever we may say or think down here in the weeds, I really cannot see Grand Lodge relenting over this fundamental principle agreed by the three 'Home' Grand Lodges and hence also by the rest of recognised Freemasonry around the world.  You would have to see whether or not your Californian jurisdiction holds strictly to this principle.

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