posted on Jul, 27 2004 @ 09:16 PM
There are some greater minds than I that can answer that question. Until they answer, here's my take on it.
Masonry stretches back to a time when being free was unusual. Most people were born into a relationship where they were bound by "fealty" to
Usually, this meant that they owed the lord of the manor a share of all their labor. In return, the manor owed them protection from bandits, and
representation in court.
Because serfs were not free to buy and sell on their own account (since the lord owned a share of all they produced), they could not enter into
contracts or make oaths without m'lord's permission. In feudal times this meant they could not marry, borrow money, join the priesthood, or go on
pilgrimages without getting the contract approved by their lord.
Even serfs and slaves who purchased their own freedom could be re-infeudated (enslaved) if they failed to pay a special tax on their liberty. Such
people had to wear a special cap to show that they owed the tax to their lord. The only way to avoid ever having to pay the tax, or risk being
enslaved, was to be free from birth.
In masonry, the candidate makes a pledge and binds himself to a code of conduct. No person who was born to servitude could legally take such an oath.
If a serf did, the master could legally compell the serf to divulge all secrets or other parties to the contract.
In other words, if a serf was made a mason, then his lord could legally compel him to divulge all the proceedings within the lodge, and the names of
all the masons he knew.
Here is why this was important:
Masonry goes back to a time when there was no religious liberty. Men were not allowed to have an open Bible without a priest present, to interpret
scripture correctly. So an open Bible was an afront to the church.
One of the great symbols in masonry is of course, the open Bible.
While political and religious division have no place within the lodge, it is also true that masons are honest about their personal beliefs in God
while in the lodge. In a day when you could be executed for disagreeing with the church, it was a matter of life and death that your brother masons
did not divulge what you said in the lodge.
This is the only sense in which masonry is a "secret" organization. It is also the reason that candidates must be freeborn: the candidate cannot
owe to anyone an explanation of who he sits in lodge with, or the doctrines they profess.
I cannot prove it. But personally I am convinced that Masonry goes back to the time before the Reformation, when a Bible could only be opened by
laymen in secret, when you could be killed for speaking freely about your faith. Brother masons will understand why I believe those things.
Anyone can see how masons would be accused of all kinds of horrible things if they were suspected of trying to approach God outside of the church
Maybe more knowledgeable men can correct my mistakes, or improve my explanations. Hope that helps, bastet.