Freedoms Freemasonry supports in its various degrees, particularly the separation of church and state
By Paul R. Swanson, 32°
That best and justic fabric of things was of no long continuance because it wanted that cement which should have kept all together, edcuation. Plutarch
The Scottish Rite Journal on page 24 of the January/February 2023 edition confronts this issue in a one-page review. The author, Roger Himmel, 32, KCCH from the Valley of Raleigh, North Carolina quotes Ben Franklin, founding father, and well-known Mason as paraphrased by Brother Hoover in 1970, “Where selfishness prevails, benevolence and goodwill die. Good citizenship: it is a vital, daily chore for all free people if they hope to remain free.”
The three degrees of the Blue Lodge give several illustrations about morals and lessons for encouraging the petitioner to “Improve himself in Masonry” using the working tools and seven liberal arts and sciences combined. Words of freedom are stitched throughout the lessons and they are assumed without detailing them. For Scottish Rite Masons, these freedoms are much more laid out, as in the 30th Degree. It is demanded of a Scottish Rite Mason to be patriotic towards his country, just as the Officers charge in the Blue Degrees in Florida makes such demands.
The many bodies of the Scottish Rite Masonry spell out the freedoms and the further demands on the conscience which are expected in a more dramatic way, through the degrees and the dialog within them.
Religious fundamentalism, particularly in the Southern Baptist Convention has ebbed and flowed throughout the history of the United States in communion with and against the exercise of religious freedom. Their recent angle of subversion is to create church-owned education while using public funds to pay the church for that education, called indoctrination by many.
Scottish Rite Masons were instrumental in setting up America’s well-established public education system long ago, paid for through taxes and enforced on the populace with laws for attendance. Churches resisted the loss of control over public education but in the end, the public interest prevailed, with the stipulation that the church was not to be involved in the public schools. Churches were to stay in churches and the twain are not to be intertwined. With cries of foul and “God can’t be taken out of schools” fundamentalists fought back the limits imposed on their reach and those battles continue to this day, particularly in the areas of the United States where fundamental religious members are part of large voting blocks. This has been trending in America in ebbs and flows over the course of our history.
Some scholars noticed and warned the public about the dangers of violating the separation of church and state. Baptist statesman and scholar James E. Wood, Jr wrote an article that accompanied that of the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover noted above. He wrote, “Those who are wary of the concept of the secular state, as the condition of the separation principle, would do well to note that political absolutism and state deification have all too often accompanied the notion of the Christian State.”
Freedoms Freemasonry supports, particularly the Scottish Rite in the 30th degree.
The Scottish Rite 30th degree, Knight Kadosh or Knight of the White and Black Eagle has as lessons listed in A Bridge to Lights: A Study in Masonic Ritual and Philosophy, by Rex R. Hutchens to “Arm yourself with faith in God, love toward your fellow men and knowledge. Great examples are the noblest legacies from the past; they enrich a nation more than wealth or power.”