Some months ago, a Tennessean named Glenn Beck reached out to me regarding my research into and publications about the unbiblical nature of the cult of Freemasonry. Glenn is a Southern Baptist Deacon and Sunday School teacher. He is also, perhaps, the most decorated Freemason ever to leave the craft and speak out against it. A few weeks ago, I traveled to East Tennessee and sat down with Glenn for an in-depth interview about his experience as a Freemason. That interview is included below:
How long have you been a Christian?
I have been a Christian since I was 16 years old. I am now in my 70s.
What led you to get saved?
The conviction of the Holy Spirit, I attended a revival that lasted two weeks. There was an altar call every night. Every night I would go out the back door, until one night responded to the call of the Holy Spirit and walked down the aisle to the mourners bench where I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and was later baptized in a local river.
Of what church are you a member?
I am a member of Russellville Baptist Church in Russellville, TN.
How do you and have you served there?
I am the Senior Men’s Sunday School teacher and a deacon. I’ve been a deacon there for 3 years. I also served as a deacon at a former church.
How long were you a Freemason?
I was a Mason for 38 years.
What led you to become a Freemason?
I think all the things that drive men: ego, politics, greed, and selfishness. I began to look at men I knew around the community who were Masons and over time learned that if you wanted jobs you had to go see certain people because they knew certain people. That was the system. So, I asked a family friend who was known to be a Mason how to become a Mason and he gave me a petition to join the lodge.
How are potential members recruited to the lodge?
As I stated in my previous answer, I asked. If you are interested in becoming a Mason you have to ask a Mason. You will be given a petition for membership in the lodge. You complete the petition and submit it to the lodge. If your petition is accepted then the worshipful master appoints an investigative committee to check into you as a candidate.
Tell us about your various Masonic degrees and honors.
I took the three degrees of Blue Lodge and was raised a Master Mason in 1976. After becoming a Master Mason, I petitioned for the Scottish Rite and became a Shriner, all in 1976. After going through the Scottish Rite, I was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason. (all Shriners are Masons but not all Masons are Shriners). I also went into the Eastern Star, my wife and I, and served as Worthy Patron six times. I served as Worshipful Master of my local Lodge in 1980. Around 1995, I became interested in the York Rite and petitioned for those degrees. This is the “Christian” branch of Masonry. The Scottish Rite was set up for the Masonic Jews and the name of Jesus is not in it. York Rite Masons must swear to defend the Christian faith (the York Rite is older in origin than the Scottish Rite ).
I petitioned the Chapter, Council, and Commandery in the York Rite. I progressed through the nine degrees of the York rite. I served as High Priest and Illustrious Master. I served as Commander of the Commandery. I was awarded the (KYCH) Knights of York Cross of Honor, the Knight York Grand Cross of Honor, and the Order of the Purple Cross. I was a Rosicrucian, a member of St. Thomas of Acon, Knights Masons, AMD Mason, Red Cross of Constantine, and the Holy Royal Order of Knights Templar Priests. I was elected to serve as Grand Commander of Knights Templar in Tennessee in 2010. I served the Grand Lodge and District Chairman. I was serving as Governor of the York Rite College when I left Masonry.
Do any of the oaths, lectures, and rituals related to them conflict with biblical teaching?
Yes, in various ways. The Third Commandment (Exodus 20: 7) says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in Vain.” The Masonic obligations are taken in vain using God’s name in a false and unjustified way that represents no genuine faith. “Vain” means, simply to take for an empty, not good purpose. It is hypocrisy, claiming the name of God but acting in a way that disgraces him. It is using the name of God in a superficial and stupid way. It is perjury related to God’s name. Consider Zechariah 8: 17, “ love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.” Once you understand His essence and the majesty of God’s name, you will never want to even come close to abusing His name. In Matthew 5:34-37, Jesus said not to swear at all. Jesus was laying down the principle that Christians must not have two standards of truth. So, if Masonry is not a religion then does it have its own form of truth apart from the Bible? Then why use the bible to justify you own truth?
I remember all the oaths, I had a proficiency card. I taught the lectures. You repeat the words of the obligation the Worhipful master gives you, while kneeling with your hands upon the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, which are placed on top of the Bible. You swear all this and seal it by kissing the Bible. The Bible, Square, and the Compass are said to be furniture of the Lodge and are placed upon an altar. The subversive teaching here is that you need another medium in addition to the Bible for moral truths and spiritual knowledge. Apparently, the Bible alone is not enough. Some argue that the obligations are not binding, but, if they aren’t, why use the Bible? Does this then make the scripture irrelevant?
What led you to quit the Lodge?
I’ve renounced Masonry. It gets me nothing. I have all kinds of certificates and awards. It doesn’t mean anything. Deciding to leave took a period of 5 or 6 years. I experienced a number of frustrations over a period of years, some of them related to Masonic politics . At one point my pastor asked me to serve on a church committee to draft policies related to LGBTQ activity. These policies were created to provide legal protection and to ensure that homosexuals would not be allowed to use our church for same-sex “marriage” or other functions. At the same time, men (Masons) who “married” other Masons continued their membership in the Lodge and continued being accepted as Masons in the State of Tennessee, even though it was against the Masonic code. This is completely hypocritical and against my Christian beliefs and values for me to be a part of the Lodge which has laws in place prohibiting men with this type of life style from membership in the Masonic Lodge. How can a man belong to an organization that accepts this lifestyle, while saying it doesn’t? How does a man who believes and supports what the Bible teaches about this lifestyle justify this contradiction within himself, with God, and with his church? I demitted from the Blue Lodge, which removed me from all Masonic bodies. If Masonry is designed to give more light, then I received enough light to know that I wasn’t getting the real light. Masonry is darkness.
Is Christianity compatible with Freemasonry?
My definition of Christianity is a belief in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus and his Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. John 3:16 indicates that centrality of Christ. John 14:6 states the vitality of Christ to Christianity clearly, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
What did you specifically feel led to repent of when you quit the lodge and why?
I was led to repent of all the obligations that I had taken. It is unbibical. It is hypocritical.
I couldn’t and didn’t keep the oaths. I am not acquainted with any Mason that has kept his obligations as a Mason, whatever it may have been. So, what did it mean? I came to the realization that the oath and obligation was not biblical, a Violation of the 3rd Commandment. I saw the real light and what Masonry really is. Masonry is darkness.
During your years as a Freemason and Church member, did anyone ever approach you about the incompatibility between Christianity and Freemasonry?
No. No one ever came to me and said it was wrong. I did have one conversation about Masonry with my sister. She passed away this year. I told her before she died that I had gotten out of Masonry. She said, “I am so glad.”
Does Masonic service conflict or take away from one’s service and commitment to his church?
Yes. We can’t have two masters. If you are heavily involved in Masonry, how much time do you spend doing and focusing on Masonic work and ritual versus reading and studying the bible, doing church work? Masonry creates a conflict and you choose which is important to you. Masonry became my idol because of the amount of time and focus I gave it. When you are doing Masonic work, do you use that time to witness for Jesus or do you use that time to talk and witness about Masonry? In reality it is confusing to people, who are you representing, Masonry or Jesus? Does the conversation always lead back to Masonry?
Can you compare being a Mason to matters of Christian liberty, such as drinking wine, eating certain foods, or going to church on Saturday versus a Sunday? In other words, can Masonry be a matter of conscience or is it plainly unbiblical for everybody?
Speaking as a Christian, and using my definition of a “Christian,” it is not compatible to anyone who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It is unbiblical.
Does Masonry teach any theological doctrines or lessons which conflict with biblical teaching?
When you go through the degree work, it’s in a religious setting and there is prayer being given. All human beings, I think, would get the impression that it is a religious ceremony.
In the first degree, you are presented as “a poor blind candidate in total darkness who desires to be brought to light by receiving and having a part of the rights,” light and benefits of this worshipful Entered Apprentice Lodge dedicated to the memory of the Holy Saints Johns as all others have done who have gone this way “before” you. Gnosticism comes into play here. You are taught to search for “more light,” which is masonic (enlightenment) knowledge. Having to say that you are in darkness seeking light, and being blindfolded (hoodwinked) having the blindfold removed after the obligation where you receive “masonic light,” it’s gnostic. If you are a Christian, it is contrary to biblical teaching. It is seeking God through an avenue other than the Bible. When you take your obligations in a Lodge, you put your hands on the Bible. You have to go to the Lodge to get to that point in seeking knowledge. It places the Lodge on the same level, at least in your mind, with the church or in competition with it. It is religious. It becomes a form of worship. There is prayer. You can say there is no religious connection but even an atheist would think it was religion. The Lodge is intended to represent Solomon’s Temple. You’re asked four questions as you progress through your Entered Apprentice Degree. If you answer them correctly, your answers come out to make the statement “It is in God I Am Light,” but you received this knowledge or light in a setting of a Masonic ceremony inspired by man. So, if Masonry takes good men and makes them better, is the inference here that Masons are better than non-Masons (the profane)?
In the 3rd degree, the Master Mason degree, there is the Hiram Abiff ceremony. It is a resurrection. You can call it whatever you want to call it but it is pure and simple a resurrection from the dead. It’s hard not to perceive it as some form of religion. Hiram Abiff was murdered by three workers of the temple, according to the legend, because he wouldn’t give them the secret word of a Master Mason. He was buried in his grave and his grave was marked with a sprig of acacia. His murderers tried to flee the country but were caught and executed by King Solomon. Hiram’s name is mentioned in the Bible but it is spelled differently. The characters are there but the story is not. A party of twelve was sent out to search for the body. Three of them found him and went back and reported it. They found peculiar looking jewels around his neck. They attempted to raise the body as an Entered Apprentice Mason and Fellowcraft Mason and failed. Scripture is read at this point in the ceremony, Ezekiel 37 about dry bones living again. On the third try, they successfully raised the body by the signs and grips of a Master Mason and you receive the new word of a Master Mason which is Ma-Ha-Bone. This legend or story is not in the Bible. I believed it was true when I was a Mason. From the 3rd degree you move onto the higher degrees of the Scottish Rite, the 4th through 32nd degrees. The Scottish Rite is all paganism and Gnosticism; it’s very theatrical. I think men see something there and think, “This is better than going to church,” and “I don’t have to go to ‘church,’ I am a 32nd degree Mason, wow I am almost to the top.” A pastor once told me he asked two mason where they went to church, they said they were Masons they didn’t need to go to church. I remember thinking, when that pastor told me that, “How disappointing this has been, the only secret I have learned is how to shake a brother Mason’s hand and give him a password.”
Paul says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” In Masonry, are Brother Masons yoked together with unbelievers?
Yes. Masonry teaches universality. It’s taught that Masonry is not a religion but it’s based on religious tenets. Non-Christians are entitled to sit in the Lodge with religious believers simply because they are brother Masons. The Masonic oaths and obligations are the ties that bind. I think it is a form of religious Christian Gnosticism.
Is there a Masonic hermeneutic (a Masonic way of reading the Bible)?
Yes. In the state of Tennessee, nothing can be on the altar (according to the Masonic Code) but the Holy Bible. The Masonic degrees, which come from the Bible, are allegorical. The Bible is intended to mean one thing, what it says, not my interpretation of it. It says what it says. The Lodge uses the Bible for allegory. As you advance, you are searching for more light. The basis of Masonic knowledge is biblically-based. There is the idea of “this is what really happened,” with Solomon’s Temple and Hiram King of Tyre. It has to be so, a Mason whom you trusted and believed told you so. The story of Hiram Abiff, for example, is presented as veiled in allegory and illustrated with symbols. It portrays the resurrection of the dead outside the name of Jesus. Again, the Ezekiel 37 scripture is read in the Hiram ceremony. When that is done, the Junior Warden, Senior Warden, Junior Deacon, Senior Deacon, and Worshipful Master form a line and that becomes the Tabernacle. The Worshipful Master raises you out of the grave.
What is the symbolism of the various apron jewels and Heavenly Bodies?
The Lodge officers will wear the jewels around their neck and/or on their apron. The Worshipful Master wears the square, the Wardens wear the Sun, and the Deacons wear the Moon. When you are raised a Master Mason you are told to behold the three great lights of Masonry which are the Holy Bible, the Square, and the Compass. The lesser lights of Masonry as the Sun, Moon, and Worshipful Master. As the Sun governs the day and the Moon governs the night so does the Worshipful Master govern the lodge with equal regularity and pleasure to himself. When you look in the context of the Bible being the “furniture of the Lodge” where does that place the Bible? Is it on the same level as the Square and Compass that sit on the Bible?
Do the Jewel symbols, which represent Heavenly bodies and/or God violate the Ten Commandments’ prohibition of graven images?
Yes. God never created or gave a likeness of Himself. It’s a violation of 2nd Commandment. The officers wear the Jewels of the Sun and Moon around their necks. They open and close the Lodge like the Sun and Moon opens and closes the day. What is a rational human being supposed to think? These things attract the eye to seduce the soul. All these images and symbols in Masonry are turned into idols of worship. God prohibits idolatry because He is already in the Image making business (Romans 8:29).
Is there any similarity between Freemasonry and the pagan mystery religions.
For example, the Rosicrucian is about philosophy and alchemy. Masonry is a form of Christian Gnosticism/ Kabbalah, a form or mixture of both was practiced by some of the Jews and others.
Is there an association between Shriner’s and the Koran and Allah?
Yes, unless they’ve changed it. The Shrine is billed as the “fun” part of Masonry. The obligation is taken on the Koran. The fez (hat) comes from Morocco. The scimitar is on the fez. It doesn’t take you but a second, Google it, that’s an Islamic emblem.
Does the Masonic funeral ritual contradict biblical teaching and practice in any way?
The Masonic funeral preaches you right into Heaven, whether you have any church affiliation or not. You have to be a Master Mason, with your dues paid or a 50-year Mason and you are entitled to the funeral. You don’t have to be a Christian. Every Mason gets the same Masonic rites. The Masons will tell you they are not a religion and that they don’t teach a way of salvation, just morals. The funeral rite mentions God (the Great Architect of the Universe) and Heaven (the Celestial Lodge). Being a Mason will get you into the Celestial Lodge above.
How much authority do the writings of Pike, Mackey, or Coil have in Masonry or with individual Masons?
The Scottish Rite is going to rely on Albert Pike’s writings. When you complete the 32nd Degree, you are given a copy of Morals and Dogma by Pike. It’s their Bible. A Blue Lodge member that does not join the Scottish Rite probably knows very little about Albert Pike. And his book is probably not read by most Scottish Rite masons. Here are 3 quotations from Albert Mackey:
“Freemasonry is a science of symbols, in which, by their proper study, a search is instituted after truth, that truth consisting in the knowledge of the divine and human nature of God and the human soul.”
“The religion of Freemasonry is not Christian.”
“The Cabala may be defined to be a system of philosophy which embraces certain mystical interpretations of scripture, and metaphysical and spiritual beings…Much use is made of it in the advanced degrees, and entire Rites have been constructed on its principles.”
I would venture to say that less than 10% of masons have ever read any of Mackey’s works.
When you first contacted me, you described Freemasonry as a “cult.” Why?
Just the pure definition of a cult, the Lodge meets that. Masons have their own form of rituals and if you become one, you are expected to conform to all the rules and accept everything as truth. You accept their philosophy, sometimes to the exclusion of other things. They don’t take everyone, you have to qualify.
Does Freemasonry add to the word of God?
Yes. Consider 2 Timothy 2:15-16. The bible is truth and it is intended to keep us away from the allegorical teachings that are taught in Masonry.
Does Freemasonry subtract from the person of Christ?
Yes. It excludes Christ in the Blue Lodge degrees and subverts him in some of the other degrees.
Does Freemasonry involve a multiplication of salvation requirements?
The petition you submitted to the lodge lists a question, “Are you a member of a Church?” If so give name. Being a member of a church or being religious or Christian is not a requirement to become a Mason. Masons are asked, “As a rational accountable being, in whom do you put your trust?” This question may or may not be asked depending on the jurisdiction. As a Christian, that is supposed to be God. For a Muslim, it’s Allah. Masonry promises no way of salvation. It teaches being a good moral person doing good works.
Does Freemasonry divide the loyalty of its followers?
I don’t think so. Biblical based religious principles are used to teach that Masonry will give you all that you need. It is about your relationship with, and obligation to other Masons that binds and creates loyalty and support, so far as it may be justified by each individual. No matter what political or religious persuasion you may subscribe to all are bound by the obligations.
How have you been treated by Masons since you demitted from the lodge?
Not well, I have been shunned and banished. I had one person call me that turned out to be one of my best friends and he said, “You know why you don’t get any calls anymore don’t you?” He was speaking of Lodge members. “They don’t want to hear what you have to say, they don’t want to deal with it.” “They are afraid of what you have to say.”
Has the shunning or rudeness extended to Masons who are church members, brothers in Christ?
One of my supposedly best friends asked my wife, “When is Glenn coming back to the Lodge?” (Notice he didn’t ask if I was still going to church). She said, “Never, it’s not going to happen. He wonders why you have stopped calling. He found out who his true friends were.” This is a guy who will witness to people about Jesus. So when I stopped being his brother Mason, evidently I stopped being his brother in Christ. These people have all the “masonic light” they can get. I think that some who profess to be a follower of Jesus are afraid to talk to me about why I left the lodge and renounced Masonry. By the way, according to some Masonic writings I can’t renounce Masonry. I have nothing in common with these men since I am not a Mason. Evidently, the Masonic brotherhood is greater than the Christian brotherhood! You can’t do both.
Do you think Freemasons, even those who identify as Christians are in danger of going to Hell? Why?
My concern is that I don’t see how someone can serve Freemasonry and Jesus. Blue Lodge Masonry is not about Jesus, it’s not about salvation. Blue Lodge Masonry is not Christian. It teaches Universalism which in itself is contrary to the word of God. You can’t have it both ways. Ultimately, though, I cannot judge who is going to hell.
What would you say to pastors who are considering whether or not Freemasonry is inherently sinful?
It’s a violation of the 3rd Commandment. Refer to the Scripture in this article. Understand what Masonry is and is not. Be prepared to answer what your personal opinion is on Freemasonry. Be able to explain where the (your) church stands on its members belonging to Freemasonry. Talk to a former Mason.
To what scriptures would you direct Freemasons, their Christian friends and family members, and pastors to address Freemasonry?
First and foremost it is a violation of the Third Commandment. Also, I would direct them to Matthew 5:34 where Jesus forbids swearing oaths on things. Further, they should consider 1 Timothy 6:20-21, which says, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’—which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.” Masonry is about acquiring knowledge and light, but it’s Masonic knowledge, Gnosticism. Using the bible to teach Masonic allegories (Truth) knowledge is unbibical.
How would you advise someone to approach his or her Masonic loved one?
Do it lovingly. Ask why they are looking for organizations to pay to learn how to live and do good works. Ask why they want to join? Ask them to talk to someone that has left Masonry. Ask them to explain what Masonry is. Ask if they know and understand it is a cult. Talk to their pastor if they have one.
Would you be willing to talk to any Masons who read this interview if they reach out to you?
Yes. I didn’t think I’d ever do this interview. I’m not doing it to “get even.” This is something I had to do out of conviction from the Holy Spirit. I had all the reasons not to leave Masonry. I had all the titles. That was what I was told when I left. I didn’t care. The titles didn’t mean anything. What does Masonry do for you? It feeds your ego and pride. It was hard to give up after 38 years. So what? It’s not what I gave up, it’s what I gained. Masonry took away from my personal life and spiritual life. We’re all going to meet God one way or another. We are all witnesses every day, whether we want to be or not. We have to decide what kind of witness in this case we want to be, a Masonic witness or a Jesus witness. You can’t witness for one without being a hypocrite to the other.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
**If you are reading this and God has convicted you of the sin of Freemasonry, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your own story.