Is Freemasonry a religion?
The answer is no! Freemasonry is neither a religion, nor a substitute for religion. It does not offer salvation, nor does it provide sacraments. It is however, to some extent ‘religious’. As already noted, Masonic ceremonies are partly based on sections of the Old Testament, and prayers are said in lodge. Of course, prayers are also said in Parliament, but politicians are not necessarily religious!
As it is based on the Old Testament, Masonry is open to a believer in any monotheistic religion. Thus there are many Masons who are Jews, Moslems, Parsees, Sikhs, and Buddhists, as well as Christians. The only qualification one needs to become a member is to believe in a Supreme Being—indeed, on the night a man joins, he is asked if he believes in God. That is the extent of the Craft’s interest in the subject. How each individual sees God is an individual matter, purely for him.
In every lodge, open on a pedestal, is what Masons call the ‘Volume of the Sacred Law’. In lodges in Christian countries this will be the Bible. In Turkey, it will be the Koran. Indeed, if the members of any lodge adhere to more than one religion, then the several holy books will be open therein, representing their various faiths.
It is interesting to note that the discussion of religion and politics is not permitted in a Masonic lodge. Freemasonry is a uniting brotherhood, and it takes just a moment of reflection to educe the two main things which divide mankind: religion and politics! Masonry takes no position on either matter. Outside of the lodge any member is welcome to his own religious or political opinion, but not in lodge.
For example, one can readily sit in a lodge in Israel, surrounding by members who are Jews, Christians, Moslems and Druse—Palestinians and Israelis! Inside the lodge they sit in perfect harmony, as brothers.