Questions on Religion
Aren’t you a religion or a rival to religion?
Freemasonry requires a belief in God and its principles are common to many of the world’s great religions. Freemasonry does not try to replace religion, nor to be a substitute for it. Every candidate is exhorted to practise his religion and to regard its holy book as the unerring standard of truth.
Freemasonry does not instruct its members in what their religious beliefs should be, nor does it offer sacrements.
Freemasonry deals in relations between men; religion deals in a man’s relationship with his God.
Why do you call it the VSL and not the Bible?
To the majority of Freemasons, the Volume of the Sacred Law is the Bible.
There are many in Freemasonry, however, who are not Christian. To them, the Bible is not their sacred book and they will make their promises on the book which is regarded as sacred to their religion.
The Bible will always be present in a Victorian lodge, but as the organisation welcomes men of many different faiths, it is called the Volume of the Sacred Law. Thus, when the Volume of the Sacred Law is referred to in ceremonies, to a non-Christian it will be the holy book of his religion, while to a Christian it will be the Bible.
Why do you call God “The Great Architect”?
Freemasonry embraces all men who believe in God. Its membership includes Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsees and others. The use of descriptions such as “the Great Architect” prevents disharmony. The Great Architect is not a specific Masonic god, nor is it an attempt to combine all gods into one. The use of the term “the Great Architect”, hoever, does enable men of differing religions to pray together, without offense being given to any of them.
Note the use of the word “The”, which confirms that it is not meant to be interpreted as a name, but a description. It is like calling God “The Creator” or “The Almighty”.
Why don’t some churches like Freemasonry?
There are elements within certain churches that misunderstand Freemasonry, and confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. Although the Methodist Conference and the General Synod of the Anglican Church have occasionally criticised Freemasonry, in both Churches there are many Masons (and indeed non-Masons) who are dismayed that the Churches should attack Freemasonry, an organisation which has always encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
In recent years, largely as the result of co-operation in humanitarian works, there has been a better understanding between some church-related organisations and Freemasonry, which is encouraging to see.