OPC Report of the Committee on Secret Societies:
On this score the evidence is overwhelming. There is no room for any reasonable doubt as to Masonry’s being a religion. Not only do the symbols, rites and temples of this order point unmistakably to it as a religion, but a great many Masonic authors of note emphatically declare it to be just that. Of almost numberless quotations that could be given here the committee has selected a few.
J. S. M. Ward, the author of several standard Masonic works, defines religion as “a system of teaching moral truth associated with a belief in God” and then declares: “I consider Freemasonry is a sufficiently organized school of mysticism to be entitled to be called a religion.” He goes on to say: “I boldly aver that Freemasonry is a religion, yet in no way conflicts with any other religion, unless that religion holds that no one outside its portals can be saved” (Freemasonry: Its Aims and Ideals, pp. 182, 185, 187).
T. S. Webb says in his Masonic Monitor: “The meeting of a Masonic Lodge is strictly a religious ceremony. The religious tenets of Masonry are few, simple, but fundamental. No lodge or Masonic assembly can be regularly opened or closed without prayer” (p. 284).
Albert G. Mackey, General High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of the United States, and the author of numerous works on Masonry, has this to say: “Freemasonry is emphatically a religious institution; it teaches the existence of God. It points to the celestial canopy above where is the Eternal Lodge and where He presides. It instructs us in the way to reach the portals of that distant temple” (The Mystic Tie, p. 32). And in his Lexicon of Freemasonry the same celebrated authority asserts: “The religion, then, of Masonry is pure Theism” (p. 404).
Extremely significant is the testimony of Joseph Fort Newton, a zealous advocate of Masonic principles. He deplores the fact that within the lodge there are many who regard it as “a mere social order inculcating ethical ideals and practicing philanthropy.” He continues: “As some of us prefer to put it, Masonry is not a religion but Religion—not a church but a worship, in which men of all religions may unite” (The Religion of Masonry, pp. 10, 11). With this agrees A. G. Mackey’s declaration: “The truth is that Masonry is undoubtedly a religious institution, its religion being of that universal kind in which all men agree” (Textbook of Masonic Jurisdiction, p. 95).
To be sure, H. L. Haywood says that “there is no such thing as a Masonic philosophy, just as there is no such thing as a Masonic religion” (The Great Teachings of Masonry, p. 18). But on careful analysis it becomes clear that he means that Masonry is not to be put in a class with other religions; in a word, that it is a super-religion. For he asserts that Masonry has a religious foundation all its own and that its religion is universal (Idem, p. 99). No doubt, Haywood would agree with Newton that “Masonry is not a religion, but Religion.”
Such is the unmistakable testimony, not of critics of Masonry, but of Masonic authors who are recognized by Masonry itself as authorities.