Bloody Oaths

"...binding myself under no less a penalty than that of having...."

 One of the common deceptions used by anti-Masons, particularly the "Religious Intolerants", is the charge that Masons take "Bloody Oaths". Forgetting how they too might have said "Cross my heart and hope to die.", it's a wonderful catch-phrase for them to use since it's so emotionally charged. To someone who has never experienced Freemasonry, it can be more than just 'chilling'. Bodies severed, throats cut, and all sorts of horrid things - and yet, it seems that none of this is EVER reported in the news. Could it be that every single (EVERY SINGLE) person who becomes a Mason is just so terrified that he'll never do anything bad toward Freemasonry or another Mason? Oh, and what about those who've quit Freemasonry? Why is it they've never been punished like this?

Welcome to reality!

bulletFreemasonry is a three hundred year old organization founded on the principles of organizations which existed hundreds of years before that. It comes from a time when it was important to impress upon an initiate the solemn and serious nature of the work he was undertaking. In those times, a hand would be cut off for stealing (and in some parts of the world still is today!). The penalties, then, were really in accord with the times.
bulletIn addition, Freemasonry teaches its lessons through the use of ALLEGORY whereby an example is explained or shown in a way which will impress upon the listener the point in a manner that words simply can't accomplish. In today's world, this type of penalty would never be carried out but the concept of such a final and complete act is certainly a lot more impressive than threatening to send someone to bed early or take away their credit cards.
bulletAnd finally, Freemasonry's oaths are SYMBOLIC relative to penalties, a fact that the anti-Masonic faction would have you totally ignore. As stated twice above, these things don't really happen.

So if they're 'fake', why bother?

It's a bit more complicated than that. When a man becomes a Mason, he is expected to be able to practice tolerance and to 'keep a secret'. Most often this involves personal matters but it's something every Mason understands. The consequence of breaking this trust that's shared amongst ALL Masons wherever dispersed is not a simple triviality; it's the core of the fraternal brotherhood that has existed over three centuries and more. Thus, a serious and solemn penalty is not a joke or prank. Every Mason understands this - but they also understand that it's symbolic.... Those who have difficulty understanding symbolism (or who want to attack Freemasonry for their own objectives) pick on this as an object of scorn and mocking. To a Mason, it's sheer foolishness to be doing so.

But he didn't know.... The horror of it all!

When a man joins Freemasonry, these concepts are discussed with him well in advance of his initiation. This is not unlike other instances in our lives where we encounter things which we might not have understood in their totality before they were presented to us. If you've bought a house, can you honestly say that you obtained and studied carefully each and every one of the mortgage papers before you signed them? More likely, you were handed some things and relied on your trust in others that they'd be appropriate.

So too in Freemasonry: the individual seeks out the fraternity (not vice-versa) and at several points along the way, including just seconds before the actual obligations are conferred, he is reassured that what he obligates himself to will not interfere with any duty he owes to GOD, his country, his family/neighbors, or himself.

Please pay particular attention to the order in which these assurances are made. One charge of anti-Masons is that Masonic obligations interfere with a Mason's duty to God yet should the Mason find any such contradiction, the obligation would not be at all binding! Fact is: there isn't! <sigh>

With these assurances in mind, the candidate is asked if he is willing to proceed. Only upon a positive, verbal statement does the ceremony continue.

As anti-Masons will show, obligations used in the past (available to them from the many Masonic 'Exposures' written over the past 300 years) do contain penalties which - if followed literally - would be so heinous as to warrant the contempt of all. The difference is, however, that the obligations are allegorical in nature.

The only penalties which can be imposed on a Mason are those of
suspension, expulsion, or reprimand!

As times change, the concept of allegory is becoming lost. The number of 'acceptable' nursery rhymes diminishes daily in an effort to be politically correct and as this happens, fewer and fewer people understand the concept of allegory. Consequently, many Grand Lodges throughout the world have changed or are changing their obligations to say, simply and plainly, that a Mason in times past obligated himself to various things (the 'Bloody Oaths') but that a Mason today subjects himself only to the penalty of being 'spoken to' or being asked to leave!

Masonry's detractors, when confronted with this information, will suggest that the penalties - if they are meaningless in the first place - should be abolished. Why they are in a position to determine how an organization to which they do not belong should conduct its affairs is a mystery. Nevertheless, the penalties are mentioned since they emphasize the sincerity of purpose upon which the work is undertaken.

It's hardly the stuff on which the planets turn, but to hear the anti-Masonic faction tell it, it's the most heinous thing in the world. Frankly, missing a mortgage payment can be far more hazardous....

In HIS Name

As a further complaint, against the Masonic oaths, 'religious intolerants' will argue that an Oath made in the Creator's name is inappropriate. They also complain that one is made to swear to things unknown until they are spoken. Many (perhaps most) of those who make this objection have likely never served in the Armed Forces (although many like to 'play' soldier, being part of a self-created 'militia' movement).  Had they served in the US military, perhaps they might have understood this comparison which appeared on the alt.freemasonry newsgroup in August, 2001.  An anonymous poster using the moniker "Maverick Ministries" wrote

"So you have entered into "sacred" and binding vows with unbelievers/Non Christians if the only requriement <sic> is to believe in a supreme being which could be an alien is <sic> someone's mind and are therefore at the same table as Belial in an unequal yoke. Time to come out and forsake this mess."

to which this reply was given: 

"I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM)

Here an oath is being taken.

THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC; THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME;

Allegiance is being sworn to a document written by man that is subject to change (although change is infrequent and takes a long time to approve). You will notice that the enemies are not enumerated. You will notice some enemies may be domestic. This means that one is obligated to fight enemies unknown to one at the time the oath is taken.

AND THAT I WILL OBEY THE ORDERS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE ORDERS OF THE OFFICERS APPOINTED OVER ME,

You will notice that obedience is sworn to the President and officers without naming them. This means one is obligated to obey persons most of whom are probably unknown to oneself at the time the oath is taken.

ACCORDING TO REGULATIONS AND THE UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE.

You will notice that regulations (which may as yet not be written) and the UCMJ are incorporated by reference. The UCMJ prescribes strict penalties including death for many crimes that have no civilian crime as a counterpart, such as quitting work without notice with the intent never to return.

SO HELP ME GOD."

Here God is called on to be an active part of the oath. This oath has bound many a believer and unbeliever together, even to the sacrifice of one's life for the other's, and is considered by many believers and unbelievers to be sacred. 

I am extremely honored to be bound by it.

Best regards, Kurt 

   (Our thanks to Brother Kurt Kurosawa for this!)

Taking ANY obligation

For those visitors from outside of the United States or those who have never served in the military in the US, this is the oath of allegiance that is given to every person enlisting or re-enlisting for any of the armed forces. This oath has been given to ALL persons, even in times when their enlistment was not at all voluntary but was required by the country's laws. Freemasonry, on the contrary, is quite clear that an applicant must come 'of their own free will and accord'. Further, before any obligation is given in any degree of Freemasonry or of ANY body associated with it, the candidate is assured by the presiding officer that it will not interfere with any duty he owes to God, his country, his neighbor/his family, or himself. He is told "...with that assurance, are you willing to receive it?" and has the absolute right to answer "No!". Gosh, it's really not THAT hard to understand, is it?

 

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