Is Freemasonry a cult?

by Monique
(United States)

I've been dating an older man that's a Freemason for a year. I love him & enjoy spending time with him, when his schedule permits. Besides working a full-time job, he spends 4 nights a week at the lodge/hall, which leaves little time for me. It feels like he values being a Mason more than he does being my boyfriend. Why is this organization so time-consuming? Is this common? Should I be worried about his involvement with a group that demands so much of his free time?

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Jan 10, 2015
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The short answer is no...
by: Tim

Hello Monique,
and thank you for your question.

Freemasonry is not a cult. Cult is defined as a particular system of religious worship, or an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing. Freemsonry is neither of these. We do require an unfeigned expression of belief in the Supreme but beyond that, religious choice and practice is left to the individual and has no bearing in Freemasonry. Neither is there an instance of veneration in Freemasonry. In fact, quite the opposite. Freemasonry's teachings constantly remind us that all persons meet upon the level, and all are deserving of equal consideration and respect. Besides which, for the most part we're just a bunch of grown up little boys and when we're together we're far too busy having fun to come anywhere near veneration.

As to your boyfriend, I understand your concern. Or to be more precise, my wife could definitely empathize. There was a time when I would be out of the house four and five nights a week, and sometimes all day Saturday. Freemasonry is very important to me and besides enjoying it I had accepted certain duties that I felt honor-bound to perform. My wife understood and supported me through this time, but I know now that she was also quite lonely on those nights and weekends.

Bottom line is, the Masonic fraternity is no different than any other volunteer organization in that it will take as much time as a person is willing to give. For some it becomes a big part of our lives; for others it's a social gathering once or twice a month; and for still others it's a club they joined once and remain a member of because it supports worthy causes and does good works.

It may be that your boyfriend has accepted certain responsibilities, such as being an Officer in the lodge, and when his term is finished he won't need to devote so much time to it. It could be that he has formed social relationships and personal friendships that he enjoys through association with his lodge brothers. There could be any number of reasons, but whatever the reasons are they are personal. He is spending time at the lodge either because he wants to or because he feels obligated to, or both, but he's not being forced to.

I would suggest it's time for a "Honey, we need to talk," talk. And, I think my wife would agree.;-)

All the best,

Tim

Jan 11, 2015
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Not a cult
by: Lant

Tim has given a very good explanation from the Masonic perspective, but I might enlarge a bit on the differences between the Craft and a cult.

Real cults frequently make leaving difficult if not impossible. In Masonry, all you have to do is write a note. No ostracism, no penalties, still friends.

Real cults actively try to get people to join. We don't.

Real cults sometimes often limit choices in terms of friendships, medical care, diet and education, some to the extreme of controlling marriage. We do not.

Real cults often isolate their members, even from family. We certainly do not.

Cults demand regular and frequent attendance. We encourage Masons to show up, but there are no penalties for not being there.

Cults demand conformity. Masonry insists on moral behaviour, but encourages diverse thoughts, opinions, dress and activities.

Cults usually require uncritical belief of all they say. Please feel free to check out anything I'm saying here.

Real cults usually have one supreme leader. Freemasonry does not; there are well over 100 grand lodges, each completely independent of the rest.

Real cults have appointed leaders and give little-to-no say to members. Masonry elects its leaders on a regular basis by secret ballot. All members can debate policy and so forth.

Freemasons keep their wages, salaries and inheritences. Cults frequently demand it all. We don't even tithe.

Cults generally offer sacraments, tell members how to achieve salvation (in return for obedience, of course), have designated holy books, preach theology, hold to a specific deity. Freemasonry does not do any of those things.

Freemasons can join other clubs or groups, cult members frequently cannot.

The financial books of a lodge or grand lodge are open for audit and regular inspection by members. In cults, money comes in and vanishes. Cult leaders frequently live lavish lifestyles, paid for by the members. Masonic leaders live on their own income.

We consider charity a duty and raise millions of dollars each day for the benefit of the public. In cults, charity - if it exists - is often limited to within the cult.

So you tell me - are we a cult?

Jan 11, 2015
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Response to 'Not a cult'
by: Tim

Thank you Lant. Well said and educational for me, as well. Little knowledge and zero experience with cults. My only certainty was that the Masonic fraternity is not one.

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