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Refuting the accusation of paganism
Some critics of Freemasonry claim the recommended readings for some of the degrees of Freemasonry are "pagan." Pagan, as they are using the term, simply means pre-Christian. The study of man’s moral and intellectual history allows the achievement of Freemasonry’s major purpose, the enhancement of an individual’s moral and intellectual development. Such a study has to start with the concepts of man and God as held by early cultures and evidenced in their mythologies. The ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as earlier peoples, had much of importance to say on many topics, including religion. The idea that a physician must act in the best interests of his patient comes from the pagan Hypocrates, and the concept that a government cannot break into your house and take what it wants on a whim comes from the pagan Aristotle. None of us would want to live in a world without these ideas.
The source of nearly all anti-masonic material relating to Freemasonry as being pagan evolves from the writings of Albert Pike and Dr. Albert Mackey, two American Freemasons who were devoted to the study of ancient mysteries and societies, Dr. Mackey being one of the most voluminous writers of his time. During their time they were looked upon as being scholars of their day but to a serious student of Freemasonry today they are more likely to be referred to as self-taught mystics and not the masonic authorities anti-masonic writers would like to have you believe.
Mackey and Pike embraced the ancient mysteries avidly. Pike’s Morals & Dogma, written in 1871, is given over to ancient paganism. Mackey in Masonic Ritualist, written in 1867, and Symbolism of Freemasonry, written in 1869, carried it not only to an absurd degree, but to an extent which can hardly be less than revolting to a Christian.
In order to properly interpret Mackey and Pike on paganism, one must understand that they entered the masonic fraternity in the 1840s, when masonic literature was at its height and both walked unsuspectingly into the circle of magism, paganism and occultism before they were properly seasoned in the history of the Craft. Those things that were indisputably Masonic, such as the Gothic Constitutions, the minutes of early lodges in the pre-Grand Lodge era, they ignored, but chose to follow irresponsible writers who were teaching doctrines neither then nor since approved or adopted by any Grand Lodge.
It is only fair to say that Mackey, in later years, made a retraction of his former paganistic doctrines. But that received nothing like the wide-spread publicity which had been accorded his former notions and certainly did not bar the sale and circulation of his books containing the repudiated material. It is improbable that Truth can ever keep up with Error, for there will always be those individuals who will prefer to quote Mackey as being an authoritarian source for Freemasons, failing to mention that this material was later retracted. Without the writings of Pike and Mackey, anti-masonic authors are left with little material of notoriety to formulate their startling allegations.
A scrutiny of any of the current anti-masonic books, such as those written by John Ankerberg, John Weldon, Edward Decker, Rev. James Shaw, Tom McKenney, Rev. Ron Colson and Pat Robertson, will readily show their quoted sources as being Albert Pike, Dr. Albert Mackey or Manly P. Hall’s The Lost Keys of Freemasonry published in 1923.
Is Freemasonry compatible with Christianity and other religions?
Freemasonry is compatible with religion. It may be incompatible, however,with the way a few narrowly focused people see religion. Of course, most of them feel that only they have the truth and that even many members of their own congregations are not as pure as they should be.
Unfortunately only one side, that of the anti-masonic groups who claim to be religious leaders and who have claimed to have researched the subject of Freemasonry, is generally heard. We say only one side has been heard because none of these people have bothered to contact any of today’s recognized masonic historians; they prefer to quote from books that were written 125 years ago—a dead author cannot give a rebuttal.
They are deceitful people who have generated enough power through the publication of their various books and videos to sway decisions and have been having a field day at our expense. Their one great hope for success is that they can make accusations, knowing that no one will respond. Historically, Freemasonry has ignored anti-masonic attacks, but with the advent of the internet this has changed.
Freemasonry stands, as it has always stood, with open arms, saying,"Believe as your conscience dictates."


© 1871-2021 Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon A.F. & A.M. Updated: August 26, 2001