One of the
pre-requisites that must be satisfied by a prospective candidate in order to
become initiated into the “mysteries and privileges” of freemasonry is to
declare belief in a Supreme Being. The book of Constitutions makes this requirement quite clear:
is oblig'd by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly understands
the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine.
But though in ancient Times Masons were charg'd in every Country to be of the
Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more
expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving
their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good
Men and true, or Men of Honour
and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd;
whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union,
and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have
remain'd at a perpetual Distance.”
I first read this article-long before I was initiated-what
me most were the words: “…a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious libertine”
because I found them quite dogmatic and rather offensive for those who believe
in matter alone. As a child from the late XX century religion was never an
important feature of my life, even though I studied at
a Catholic school in Spain during the 1970s. I think it is fair to say that for
many people of my generation, going to Church and being observant isn’t very
I will confess
that there was a period in my life when I considered myself an atheist although
this never stopped me from reading all sorts of religious texts, from Saint
Augustine to the Buddhist scriptures and for having an interest in spirituality
that has finally been
satisfied by becoming a freemason. This leads me into the main argument of this
essay: what does it mean to believe in a Supreme Being?
As a candidate for
initiation, before being interviewed by the senior brethren of my lodge, I spent
many nights dwelling on this subject. At that moment in time, I wasn’t certain
if I believed in a Supreme Being or not because I related this question to my
relationship with the religion I had been indoctrinated into.
If we return to
the above article, there is another section of it that also struck me
enormously: “… leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to
be good Men and true,
or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may
particular opinions to themselves” is a sentence that is almost emblematic of
what Freemasonry is at its core: a fraternity shaped by Tolerance and Democracy.
It also seemed to be offering me the chance to make up my mind on this important
topic without the constraints of dogma and doctrine, listening to my heart and
As the time for my
interview was fast approaching I still hadn’t manage to resolve the problem.
As a profane, I read voraciously on the subject of Freemasonry before my
interview hoping to find the answer to my question. Needless to say, the last
thing I wanted to do was to lie when asked the question in spite of the fact that I was quite eager to
become a freemason.
I was finally able
to determine what my “particular opinion” on the subject was.
The Supreme Being could be interpreted not only as a generic term for God
but simply as the hidden answer to the mystery of existence. Believing in this
Omni present entity, independently of its name, immanence or transcendence meant
that I believed in the need for metaphysics and in something beyond the realms
of the material world, not a small feat in a postmodern world.
The name that we
may choose to refer to the Supreme Being isn’t as crucial as I originally
thought: all the names of the Creator are human expressions of reverence to the
Divine creator and in my opinion all as valid as each other. As soon as I had
concluded this, I realized that I was free and that all faiths have something
very valuable to offer us,
and that these faiths aren’t or shouldn’t be mutually exclusive but that
they rather all form a unit. All faiths and temples, regardless of their
denomination, are sacred.
key was to recognize that there was something else aside from the material
world, that human existence is still a mystery in spite of scientific progress
and that there is such a thing as a spiritual side to being human.
isn’t a religion but a faith builder and, at the very least, it embodies a
willing and conscious desire to embrace the mysteries of God and of human
existence. Most people declare themselves
atheist without really knowing why and have discarded spirituality altogether
and Freemasonry makes candidates face up to these important questions which are
essential if we want to at least try and comprehend who we are and where we come
It then follows
that belief in a Supreme Being should definitely be an unmovable requisite for
admission into regular Freemasonry, for the Spirit can only reach out to the
Divinity and both parameters must be in place for this to be possible.
Freemasonry without a presiding G.A.O.T.U
appears before my eyes as something paradoxical and meaningless.
into freemasonry should be a journey of self- discovery but we should also
expect, as W.Bro. Julian Rees puts it, “a brush with the Divinity” as well