“CBS News” recently delved into the world of the Freemasons, investigating the rumors, fears, and conspiracy theories that surround this fraternal order, its secrets, and rituals.
Firstly, when Masons meet, they avoid discussing religion and politics. Piers Vaughan, the master of St. John’s Lodge #1 in New York, emphasized that there are certain topics prohibited within the lodge, and religion and politics are among them. While Masons may discuss political events and issues, they don’t engage in partisan political discussions.
Secondly, it’s crucial to clarify that Freemasonry is not a religion. While it exhibits some ritualistic elements, it lacks the formal structure of organized religion. There are no priests, ministers, rabbis, or any system of clergy. Freemasonry encourages individual thought and does not dictate religious beliefs.
On a related note, the Catholic Church has historically condemned Freemasonry, particularly in continental Europe. The suspicion arose from seeing men of different backgrounds and professions meeting, breaking bread, and engaging in rituals. The Church issued multiple decrees against Freemasonry, with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) reaffirming the Church’s position in 1983.
Moreover, Freemasonry is an organization for believers, and atheists or agnostics are not welcome. This stance reflects the historical context of Freemasonry, as it aimed to unite individuals who believed in a supreme being to bridge the religious divides that existed in England in the early 18th century. The belief in a supreme being is a fundamental requirement for joining the Masons.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the Founding Fathers of the United States were not Freemasons. While some, like George Washington and James Monroe, were Masons, many key figures of the American Revolution, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine, were not part of the Masonic order.
Lastly, the notion of secret Masonic symbols on the U.S. dollar bill is debunked. The symbols found on the dollar bill, including the incomplete pyramid with an eye on top, have been used by various groups, including Masons, throughout history. These symbols are not exclusively Masonic, and their interpretations vary widely.
To summarize, the Freemasons have a set of rules that exclude religious and political discussions, are not a religion themselves, and require a belief in a supreme being for membership. The organization is not as influential among the Founding Fathers as some may believe, and the symbols on the U.S. dollar bill are not exclusive to Freemasonry.