by- Allen E. Roberts, FPS
[Note: What follows has been written in answer to this question asked by a non-Mason who appeared to be interested in the Craft. It will be condensed in a talk to be given in a meeting open to the general public in the District of Columbia on February 15, 1993.]
Is Freemasonry still viable in this age of "Hurrah for me—to heck with you."
A simple question but indeed difficult to answer simply. Of course the simple answer is "Yes!" But I fear there are few, even within the Craft who would accept that truism without a more comprehensive explanation.
Let me empathize, as I always try to do, that anything I have to say is my opinion—no more, no less. No one man, no matter his rank in Freemasonry or station in life is, or can be, a sole spokesman for this organization. And to this question one can receive as many explanations as spokesmen.
Let me ask a couple of questions: Is God in His heaven? Does Truth still exist? Is Truth something we should continually seek? Is being a patriot—a love of our country—still acceptable? Are children still taught to love their parents, and do parents still love, protect, cloth, feed and educate their children? Is justice still practiced? Do we still help the unfortunate?
If we can answer "Yes" to these questions, then Freemasonry—the fraternity of men that believes in the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God—is indeed still viable.
There will continue to be attempts by self-centered, self-seeking, self-glorifying, selfish, egotistical men to destroy Freemasonry—the oldest, largest and finest fraternal organization ever to exist. Their attempts have hurt Masonry for a time, but as with anything supported by God, it will not die.
Strange, isn't it? Freemasonry isn't a charity, yet it contributes daily more money for the unfortunate than any other private organization. Masonry is not a religion, yet it's teachings are acceptable to men of any and all religions. It asks not what a man believes about God, only that he believe in God. As its ritual states, it thereby can help all men meet about one altar to express his religious beliefs as he professes. So it unites men of every country, sect and opinion.
This Freemasonry that is called a secret cult by its enemies and critics is far from secret. More books have been written about it than any other fraternity. Its members proudly wear pins, rings, jewelry of all sorts, clothing and anything else you can dream up proclaiming they are Freemasons, or members of one of the bodies which depends on the Symbolic Lodge for its existence. Principal among these is the Shrine whose members call themselves "Noble" or "Shriners."
Freemasonry is viable because it is different. How? It doesn't seek new members. There was a time when a man had to request a petition to seek membership in a Lodge. This
is still true, but to a lesser extent. In most places a Freemason may openly discuss the benefits a man will find in Freemasonry. We can even discuss the attributes found in Freemasonry: Relief, Justice, the Search for Truth, and perhaps most important of all -- Brotherhood, which in a manner of speaking is the love of man for his God.
You'll note we speak of his God. Unlike those who profess love of certain religions, we never claim any particular religious belief is an absolute necessity to attaining a place in the hereafter with God. Freemasonry welcomes good men of every country, sect and opinion.
It's different because it teaches its lessons in much the same manner as did the Master Teacher of all—Jesus Christ. He made extensive use of parables—a form of ritual. So does Masonry. His ritual and that of Freemasonry imprints wise and serious truths on the minds of their adherents. Few, if any other fraternal or service organizations do this.
Did you know that unlike the Mason haters who claim to be Christians, Freemasonry teaches exactly what Jesus taught?
And just what did the Man from Galilee teach? Exactly what Freemasonry has taught for centuries—and still teaches today—love of man for his fellowman.
Witness the Pharisees who continually tried to entrap Jesus (just as the anti-Masons of today). Jesus parried their traps in every case. "Haha!" said one who was a lawyer, "I've got him!" He turned to the Carpenter and asked: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"
Jesus looked at him and answered: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
"And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Now, please note, the Master Teacher didn't say "my God" or "my neighbor." He said: "Thy God" and "thy Neighbor." There's no qualification there. Unlike the hypocrites who claim they speak for God and their version of religion is the only religion that will get one to Heaven.
But it's Christ's answer to Peter that I find most interesting of all. "Lord," said Peter, "how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times seven?" No, sir! "Jesus saith unto him, ‘I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven!'" Wow! What saith the con artists in much of the electronic church who continuously plead for money to support their high-living life-styles?
An anti-Masonic charlatan attempted for months to get me on his television program. I finally told him I'd appear on it provided (1) it be a live one-time telecast, or (2) I be given editorial control over the tape. (Being a film producer I know well how editing a film can make those appearing in it look good or foolish.) Neither was acceptable to the pretender or his cohorts. But he continued haunting me to appear. I finally stopped the calls. How? I suggested he and his inquisitors re-read (if they ever had read) the Sermon on the Mount. Never again did I hear from them.
Is Freemasonry still viable? The answer is a resounding YES. And as it has always been—it's as modern in its concept as tomorrow.