Prince Hall Masonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual’s dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Prince Hall Masonry is open to men of any faith, but religion and sectarian discussion is forbidden in Lodge rooms. Masons meet in a spirit of toleration and brotherhood.
Prince Hall Masons believe that there is one God and that people employ many different ways to seek and to express what they know of God. Prince Hall Masonry primarily uses the appellation, “Grand Architect of the Universe,” and other nonsectarian titles, to address Deity. In this way, persons of different faiths may join together in prayer, concentrating on God, rather than differences among themselves. Prince Hall Masonry believes in religious freedom and that the relationship between the individual and God is personal, private and sacred. It strongly encourages each man to be active in his own church, synagogue or house of worship. It expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his duty to God above all other duties. Freemasonry’s moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.
Prince Hall Masonry lacks the basic elements of religion. It has no dogma or theology, no wish or means to enforce religious orthodoxy and it offers no sacraments. Prince Hall Masonry does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge or by any other means. The secrets of Prince Hall Masonry are concerned with modes of recognition, not with the means of salvation.
An open Volume of the Sacred Law, “the rule and guide of life,” is an essential part of every Masonic meeting. The Volume of the Sacred Law to a Christian is the Bible; to Freemasons of other faiths it is the book held holy by them. The obligations taken by Prince Hall Masons are sworn on the Volume of the Sacred Law. They are undertakings to follow the principles of Prince Hall Masonry and to keep confidential a Prince Hall Mason’s means of recognition.
Many outstanding religious leaders are and have been Prince Hall Masons–including the Reverend Moses Dickson, Reverend Cesar W. Clark, Reverend Howard Woods, and many others. Prince Hall Masons are members of numerous denominations representing many faiths–including many Roman Catholic Masons in the United States and around the world.