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Freemasonry - Fact Versus Fiction

Freemasonry is among one of the world's oldest secular fraternal society. It is a society that teaches moral and spiritual values through ceremonies and rituals. The abiding principles of the membership are brotherly love, relief, and truth.

Many myths about Masonry have taken hold in the imagination of "conspiracy buffs.” This may be because Freemasons, like government intelligence agencies and big business, often allow the uninitiated to argue amongst themselves so that the truth remains private. In recent years, Masonic organizations worldwide have made efforts to address these myths and better address their critics.

Some of the most common Masonic “fictions” are addressed below:

Fiction: Only certain people can be Masons.

It is commonly held that individuals become Freemasons through invitation, patrimony, or other non-democratic means. In fact the truth is quite the opposite. Traditionally, the prospect must ask a Mason, and there are no invitations granted. A man must ask freely and without persuasion to become a Freemason in order to join the fraternity.

Freemasonry accepts members from almost any religion, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and so forth. A belief in God is a requirement.

To become a Freemason, one must:

• Be a man at least 18 years age or older;
• Believe in a Supreme Being;
• Be of good character and reputation.

Fiction: Freemasonry is an elitist society for men in position of power, authority, and wealth.

Freemasonry is a society open to men of all races, colors, and creeds, and accepts members from all faiths. It is not a mutual benefit society and offers no protection or material gain or advantage to any member.

Fiction: Freemasonry is a secret society.

Freemasonry is a society of secrets. These so called 'secrets' are ways and means of identifying one another, and concern Freemasons only. Moral teachings and wisdom are imparted to members during their ceremonies. Nothing taught is or will be incompatible with the civil, moral, or religious duties of a member to his own religious beliefs, neighbor, or country of birth or adoption.

Fiction: Masons have to take “blood oaths.”

The traditional Masonic obligations, sworn by a candidate during the initiation ritual, are sometimes called “blood oaths” by those critical of the fraternity. The candidate wishes severe physical punishment upon himself should he ever reveal the secrets of Freemasonry to a non-Mason. While many non-Masons are horrified by this, these traditional obligations are no more literal than commonplace childhood "blood oaths", like "cross my heart and hope to die” – symbolic but psychologically powerful ways to express a serious bond or promise.

There are only 3 penalties that Masonry can actually impose on a member: censure, suspension of membership, and expulsion.

Fiction: Masons are conspiring to rule the world.

Freemasonry is about bringing people together to work for the good of humanity. Racial, political, and religious issues are banned from discussions at Masonic meetings.

Freemasonry has been a long-time target of conspiracy theories, which see it as an occult and evil power — often associated with the New World Order and other "agents," such as the Pope, the Illuminati and Jews — either bent on world domination, control of world politics, or covert political activities. This assumption has been influenced by the assertion of Masons that many political figures in the past 300 years have been members of the fraternity.

These theories would be possible to apply to almost any secret society (since a society with secret meetings allows secret coordination, the very essence of a conspiracy). Nevertheless, Masons have been the largest target because of their size and notable membership.

The historical complaints that the Masons have secretly plotted to create a society based on their ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity, and religious tolerance, are not denied by Masons. In an enlightened age many have now accepted the core Masonic values as stated. Additionally, freemasonry is almost universally banned in totalitarian states. In 1925, it was outlawed in Fascist Italy. In Nazi Germany, Freemasons were sent to concentration camps and all Masonic Lodges were ordered shut down.

Fiction: Freemasonry is a religion and they pray to a different God.

Externally, to some at least, Freemasonry has many similarities to a religion:

• It has an altar and a sacred book (usually a bible, but often a Torah, Koran or other relevant text)
• It has its own way of saying "Amen" ("So mote it be," a literal translation of "Amen")
• It has far more developed rituals than most Protestant denominations
• Some groups of Masons (especially the Scottish Rite) call their Lodges "temples,"
• It has a large amount of iconography and symbolism.

From the perspective of many religions, which feel that they present the perfect system of morality, any competing system of morality can be considered opposition – and if not strictly another religion, then certainly as competitor.

In response, many Masons argue that the ritual observances of Masons should be seen in the same context as rituals maintained in the military services, in government, and civil authorities.

The fact remains, however, that Freemasonry is not a religion and not a substitute for religion. There are no sacraments or salvation offered in Freemasonry. Freemasons are encouraged to follow their own choice of religions, and for this reason the discussion of religious affiliations are not permitted at meetings.

No other society in history has engendered more criticism and acrimony than Freemasonry. The above article has hopefully dispelled some fallacies and shed light on this fraternal society established for the good of humanity. Freemasonry is a society that teaches charity and tolerance towards all.

References:
http://roswellmasons.org/enter/information/fact-vs-fiction.html
http://ezinearticles.com/4403331

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