Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Masonry and Politics

We as Freemasons like to tell ourselves that there are two things that we do not talk about in the Lodge: Religion and Politics. And yet both exist, after a fashion.

Although Masonry is not a religion, and we do not discuss denominational doctrine in the Lodge, Masonry is an assemblage of religious men. Each of us brings our religion with us, individually, into the Lodge; and collectively we acknowledge a Supreme Being. That is as it should be. We should bring our religion with us everywhere, and it should affect our decisions. Scripture is the guide of our lives, whether it be a King James Bible, or the Torah, or some other book that reflects the religious views of the membership.

And though we do not discuss politics (as it is a divisive subject that often undermines the Masonic purpose of bringing disparate people together in friendship), we still vote for the officers of our Lodge and for new members for the same. Conversely, we take Masonic principles from the Lodge into the world at large; for what good is a moral education if you do not use it?

As I write this, an election has just concluded in my home district, and I found myself thinking about the way a Mason should consider a candidate... not just in the Lodge, but without.

I consider three jewels of the Lodge: the Square, which teaches us to treat all men squarely. Not just Masons, but all men.  The Level, which reminds us to treat all men with equality.  The Plumb, which reminds us to remain true and upright before God. In my religion this reminds me as well that there is no hiding our intentions from He who is also the Supreme Grand Architect of the Universe.

I consider our Great Lights: the Holy Scripture, which is the rule and guide of our lives. Once again, the Square. And also the Compass, which reminds us to keep circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds. In considering this phrase, we must discard that certain amount of carnal baggage attached to the words "passions" and "desires". They are anything we desire or are passionate about.

This leads me to think about the cardinal virtue of Temperance, which is yet another way of describing the purpose of the Compass... to keep us from allowing our passions to lead us into excess; of Prudence, which allows us to act judiciously for the greatest good; of Justice, which allows us to render unto any man his just due regardless of station; and of Fortitude, which gives us the strength to do all of these things.

I consider the three great tenets of a Mason's profession: Truth, which is the basis of every moral virtue; Relief, an expression of our charity that extends beyond the confines of the Lodge; and particularly Brotherly Love, by which we are taught "to regard the whole human species as one family—the high, the low, the rich, the poor—who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each other."

I consider the Constitution: that of my country, of which I am an obedient citizen; but also that of my state; and that of my Grand Lodge. I considered the values prominently expressed in each of them; and also the passions and desires that were omitted.

I lecture newly-made brethren on these very topics. And quite a long time ago I made a decision in my life that I would not teach a thing that I did not believe. There is nothing in Masonry that conflicts with any of my religious and moral beliefs. That we should be good, fair, upright, honest, temperate, just, prudent, brave, charitable, and equally loving of all people is not arguable. If I came across a person who thought it was worth arguing, I would morn him as a lost soul. 

Since becoming a Mason, I contemplate these symbols, teachings, precepts, and principles each and every time I cast a vote, inside or outside the Lodge. But the most important question I ask of myself is this: 

What do I believe? 

Before I vote -- before I pull a lever, raise a hand, or drop a black or white ball -- I remind myself that the fruits of our faith are found in our works... meaning, our actions. Do I believe all of those things above, or do I merely profess to? And if my desire runs contrary to those principles, I employ my Compass. I draw a boundary, beyond which I cannot allow myself to cross, lest my prejudices and passions betray me, and within which I cannot materially err.

For more on the subject of Masonic voting, visit   

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