Myth: Masons have secret meetings, what are they hiding?
Masonry has been described as an organization with secrets - but those secrets have been 'exposed' many times. Many books and documentaries have been produced on the "Secrets of Masonry". The 'secrets' of Masonry include signs, words, and modes of recognition but they're freely given to anyone who petitions and joins a Masonic lodge. They're used because the method of teaching Masonry involves allegories and symbolism, similar to the way operative masons were taught in centuries past.
Freemasonry specifies no particular religious belief but encourages its members to follow the beliefs of their own religion. Prayers in lodge may refer to the Grand Architect of the Universe, another name for God. Members are free to mentally insert the name they wish in its stead. Certain religious extremists argue that any prayer not offered in the name of Jesus is somehow invalid.
Nothing could be further from the truth and, in fact, the open Bible upon the altar of lodges is most often a King James Version despite the presence of Masons who are Muslims, Jews and other faiths. Each Mason realizes that the Bible is 'representative' of his own Holy Book - and each Mason recognizes that when the Chaplain offers a prayer aloud, it is certainly acceptable that he offer one of his own faith and manner in the privacy of his own devotion.
The person joining Freemasonry retains freedom of religion, politics, friends and family association. A Mason can terminate his membership at any time. In fact, if he fails to pay his annual dues, his membership is terminated by the Masonic organization. No Mason is forced to remain a member should he wish to quit.
The use of this word comes into Masonry from the fact that the symbols and history of the organization are, an example of the Mason's art, the building of King Solomon's Temple.
The simple fact is that the eye in the pyramid is not now, nor has it ever been a Masonic symbol. While the 'Eye of Providence' is always prominent, it reminds a Mason that his words and deeds are being judged by God.
The Master of a Lodge - who, when addressed, is given the honorific title of "Worshipful" - presides over the meeting of Masons. His duties in the functioning of a lodge are quite similar to that of the President of the local chapter/branch of any other organization. The term is one of respect and has nothing to do with 'worshipping' of an individual.
Freemasonry 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 a new member the solemn and serious nature of the work he was undertaking. In 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 that words simply can't accomplish. And finally, Freemasonry's oaths are SYMBOLIC relative to penalties. The only penalties which can be imposed on a Mason are those of suspension, expulsion, or reprimand!
Some people point to the red fez worn by Shriners as a symbol of 'worshipping Satan'. The Fez is just a hat, nothing more. Shriners wear their fez proudly knowing that it represents a century of good works and fun.