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                               By The Reverend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

I recently received a letter in which the writer asked: "Why are you a Freemason?" The question
caused me to think and reaffirm my feelings about Masonry.

At first I thought about my own forebears. My grandfather was a Mason for 50 years, my father
for 50 years, and I have been a Mason for 60 years. This means that my tie with Freemasonry
extends back to 1869 when my grandfather joined the Masons.

My feelings on my first entrance into a Masonic Lodge are very clear in memory. I was a young
man and it was a great thrill to kneel before the altar of the Lodge to become a Freemason. This
must have been the same feeling my father and grandfather experienced before me. And it must
also have been identical to the one that many great leaders of America and the world felt as they
became Masons. Prominent among this select group are George Washington, Harry Truman, and
12 other Presidents as well as countless statesmen and benefactors of humanity.

So I found myself thinking: "What does Freemasonry mean to me?" Of course Masons say that
Freemasonry actually begins in each individual Mason's heart. I take this to mean a response to
brotherhood and the highest ideals. I recall the story of a man who came to me once and said: "I
see that you are a Freemason. So am I." As we talked, he told me of an experience he had years
ago. It seems that he joined the Masonic Fraternity shortly after he became 21 years old. When he
was stationed in the military, he decided to attend various Lodge meetings. On his first visit to a
Lodge in a strange city, he was a bit nervous. One thought was constantly in his mind; could he
pass the examination to show that he was a Mason? As the committee was carefully examining his
credentials, one of the members looked him squarely in the eye and said: "Obviously you know
the Ritual, so you can enter our Lodge as a Brother Mason. But I have one more question. Where
were you made a Mason?" With that he told the young visitor to think about it because when he
knew the answer the examiner would not have to hear it. He would see it in his eyes. My friend
told me that after a couple of minutes a big smile came to his face and he looked at the examiner,
who said: "That's right, in your heart."

Freemasonry is not a religion though, in my experience, Masons have predominately been religious
men and, for the most part, of the Christian faith. Through Freemasonry, however, I have had
opportunity to break bread with good men of other than my own Christian faith. Freemasonry does
not promote any one religious creed. All Masons believe in the Deity without reservation.
However, Masonry makes no demands as to how a member thinks of the Great Architect of the
Universe. Freemasonry is, for all its members, a supplement to good living which has enhanced
the lives of millions who have entered its doors. Though it is not a religion, as such, it supplements
faith in God the Creator. It is supporting of morality and virtue.

Freemasonry has no dogma or theology. It offers no sacraments. It teaches that it is important for
every man to have a religion of his own choice and to be faithful to it in thought and action. As a
result, men of different religions meet in fellowship and brotherhood under the fatherhood of God.
I think that a good Mason is made even more faithful to the tenets of his faith by his membership
in the Lodge.

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