Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest Article: Jack Roberts' KT Magazine Letter

I have received permission from Jack Roberts, High Priest of Minnesota Chapter No. 1, to publish a letter he sent to the editor of the Knights Templar Magazine. I think it's important read for all of us who are active in the York Rite.

Sir Knight Palmer,

I was disappointed to read in the March 2011 “Letters to the Editor” that another Sir Knight believes that those Brothers who do not conform to the beliefs of “fervent Christianity” should demit not only from their Templar Commanderies, but also all York Rite bodies.

The belief that a Brother must be a Christian – perhaps a fervent Christian, as suggested in the letter – to petition a York Rite body is entirely incorrect, and is a persistent mischaracterization of the nature of two of the three Masonic bodies that fall under the York Rite.

Neither Capitular Masonry nor Cryptic Masonry require a Brother to be a Christian. Neither body claims to be a Christian organization or based on Christianity. Although many of the values espoused and taught in both bodies have much in common with Christian teachings, a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons and a Council of Select Masters are more similar in membership and teachings to our Blue Lodges than Commanderies.

Perhaps I should say that Chapters and Councils “could” be more similar in membership and teachings to our Blue Lodges, but many Brothers perpetuate the myth that one must be a Christian to be a York Rite Mason. This myth wreaks havoc on our efforts to bring good and true Brothers to our Chapters and Councils.

Many times I have had to explain to Brothers that the structure of the York Rite is not like the Scottish Rite, which is a coherent and structured series of degrees that build upon each other. The York Rite is a loose confederation of three bodies that could operate independently, and have, in fact, operated independently in the past. Templar Orders are not the “capstone” or “completion” of the York Rite. A Brother can derive much value from the lessons and beautiful degrees of Capitular and Cryptic Masonry without taking the Templar Orders.

We in the York Rite need to let the strength of Chapters and Councils stand on their own, and stop suggesting that one is not a “complete” or “good” York Rite Mason unless one is a fervent Christian and a Sir Knight.

Jack Roberts
Damascus Commandery No. 1
Saint Paul, Minnesota


Anonymous said...

Why have a requirement of religion anyway? This requirement is a holdover from the days when people believed that your oath was worthless unless made under the threat of eternal damnation.

Put another way: Why would you trust a man who keeps his word by a fear of deity more than a man who keeps his word through choice and good character?

Anonymous said...

Because the man who fails to keep his word only due to choice and good character believes there are no ramifications for such failure.

Anonymous said...

Well, that is a specious argument.

The ramifications clearly are there, just not the imaginary ones.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting how the Grand Encampment perpetuates the myth that one must be a Christian to be a Sir Knight. When in fact, one does not. What he obligates himself to is to defend the Christian Faith before all others.

I find it disheartening that they are pushing their Chivalry, Christianity, Templary, A way of Life! when we are eliminating men who would be good and valiant Templars and who will fervently defend the Christian faith as much as any other good faith. Maybe they should change it to Chivalry, Right, Templary, A way of Life?

MP said...

So, to be a Templar, one must defend the Christian faith before all others?
And you don't think this prevents someone who is not a Christian from being a KT?
So, I'd be expected to give preferential to defense to something other than my own faith?
I cannot do that in good conscience, and I question the logic of those who could.

Mark Adams said...

Anonymous calls the requirement that Masonic Knights Templar be Christian a "myth". Presumably he means it in the colloquial sense of "a fallacious premise", although it turns out he is in fact more correct in the sense of "an explanation of a natural, social, or historical phenomemon":

Grand Encampment Constitution, Chapter XI, §177 (b) ("Commanderies - Election of Candidates and Members/Qualifications of Petitioners") holds that the Orders of Templary can be conferred only on a Companion "Who is a firm believer in the Christian religion."

Matt Johnson said...

Requiring a specific religion is irregular and one of the main reasons the Knights Templar will always be tiny compared to the Royal Arch and the Scottish Rite. The York Rite is not like the Scottish Rite. It is 3 unrelated groups lumped together. The Royal Arch has the advantage of being part of the original plan of the UGLE. I see the Knights Templar shrinking as long as they demand this unMasonic requirement of Christian faith. I am certainly not the first to point this out. Freemasonry is not a religion nor does it endorse a particular religion. All other appendant bodies...even the Shrine...understands this. My suggestion to the KT...ditch the hats, the religion requirement and bring back the skull and crossbone aprons. Freemasonry favors no one religion, only that common belief which all men believe...the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man and the immortality of the human soul.

Shawn Gooding said...

The origins of the Ecossais Freemasonry are Christian, especially the Kadosh and Elu grades. The Scottish Rite is Christian in Ireland, England, Scotland and numerous other places. Please explain how not conforming to the Lodge of Reconciliation's 19th century innovations, makes a Rite or Order "irregular"? Are you re-writing Masonic history to suit your universalism agenda? The Scottish Rectified Rite is requires adherence to primitive Christianity and a profession of faith is required, as the entire regime is Christian in its mysteries. I'd like to see you tell the Masons around the World who are Masonic Knights Templar, that they are irregular. Your ignorance is showing.

As for Grand Encampment Knights Templar in the USA, anyone who has been through the ritual of the Orders used by every Grand Commandery in the country knows that it would take some serious psychological disengagement to justify joining a Commandery as a non-Christian when one must kneel at sword point and swear that Christ suffered on the cross to redeem us from our sins. But, perhaps these are the things some see fit to do in order to infiltrate and cause disorder and chaos from within.

Millennial Freemason said...

Just to be clear, I, as editor of this blog, do not post under the username admin. As you were.


MP said...

The origins of the Ecossais Freemasonry are Christian, especially the Kadosh and Elu grades. The Scottish Rite is Christian in Ireland, England, Scotland and numerous other places.

Very interesting; however, it ignores the history of the AASRs evolution as a Supreme Council governed body: four of the "Eleven Gentlemen of Charleston" were Jewish:
Abraham Alexander, Emanuel De la Motta, Israel Delieben, and Moses Levy

Moses M. Hayes, to whom Francken passed on the Rite he received from Morin, was Jewish.

So, I find it hard to believe what I see, later, in Folger's works about the AASR, that it was ALWAYS intended to be for Christians, after the 16th degree.