On this forum and in others, I've seen the accusation tossed around that Freemasonry is a cult. Here is my somehwat biased (as I'm a Mason) look on
what a cult is and a comparison to Freemasonry.
Cult comes to us from the Latin word "cultus" meaning "worship, devotion, or reverence". Looking at the dictionary we see "cult" defined as
1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3. the object of such devotion.
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction
of a charismatic leader.
7. the members of such a religion or sect.
Now to split hairs, I will say that Freemasonry doesn't fit this definition because Masonic Lodges are not places of worship. Freemasonry is
religious, but far from being a religion or a religious institution (ie church, synagogue, mosque, etc). We also do not force our members to live
outside of "conventional society" nor do we have a singular "charismatic leader".
We do have rites, rituals, ceremonies, but that is far from making an organization a cult.
Here are some characteristics of a cult:
Leadership: A cult will have a living leader who is self-appointed, has absolute authoritarian/totalitarian control, is accountable to no one, and is
often messianic with a special mission or cause.
Truth: The leader, and sometimes the group, are in possession of a credible "truth". Often this surrounds some notion of salvation which can only be
attained from affiliation with that particular cult. Only knowledge from the group is credible and often critical thinking is prohibited.
Devotion: The members must submit to all orders of the leader without question or inquiry. Promote dependency of the members upon the group.
Finances: Members are often required to turn over most if not all of their assets to help fund operations and the cause of the leader. Again, with the
"no question" policy, there is no transparency in regards to where the assets are stored, used, or spent.
Profane world: There is instilled an illogical fear of the outside world. Members are often cut off or isolated from their pre-cult friends, families,
and society. They have the polarized "us versus them" mentality.
Recruiting: Use deceptive methods in recruiting such as crisis creation, deepening a confessed guilt or fear, or state that they have all the
Leaving: There is no legitimate reason to leave the cult. Members who do leave are criticized and seen as evil.
You can find more here:
Having looked at all the information, I'd have to say NO, Freemasonry is not a cult.
Our leaders/officers are elected or appointed by an elected officer, not self appointed. Least of all, do we have to do as bidden without question.
Masonry don't claim to possess some hidden secret that will give us salvation from God's Judgment.
There is no dependency or entitlement syndrome placed upon Freemasons.
The finances are tracked and, at least in my Lodge/Grand Lodge, audited annually; the Grand Lodge audit done by an independent auditor when a new
Grand Secretary or Grand Treasurer is elected.
Freemasons are not cut off from the world or family/friends that we knew previous to joining Freemasonry.
Freemasonry doesn't recruit, but even to prospective members, we don't lie nor do we use deceptive means to bring them into our fold.
Lastly, Freemasons leave the group all the time. Some leave for poor reasons while others leave for personal or financial reasons. It just depends on
I would point out though that many of these characteristics fit the description of some of the anti-Masons I have met.
edit on 6-4-2015 by
KSigMason because: (no reason given)