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According to what I've been told by several people who have inquired of "practicing" (is that the right word?) Freemasons, and supported by Wikipedia, "Freemasonry explicitly and openly states that it is neither a religion nor a substitute for one. 'There is no separate Masonic God', nor a separate proper name for a deity in any branch of Freemasonry."

So for purposes of a fear of worshiping a false god, there should not be any prohibition.

But what about Darkeihem?

What about engaging of some foreign worship (ie., the rituals, ceremonies, etc., that praise G-d - even allowing one to identify G-d however he chooses/believes - are not Jewish rituals, ceremonies, etc.)?

What about using masonic symbols?

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I don't know anything about it, but based on that quotation alone, couldn't it still be that membership in freemasonhood entails Christianity or some other religion even if it is not one? –  WAF Dec 20 '12 at 2:56
    
My Kabalah instructor is a Freemason. At one time, he was the head of a Masonic lodge. The requirements that he put forward for becoming a member was an adherance to monotheism. –  anthony-arnold Dec 20 '12 at 4:00
    
There are two rites in Freemasonry - the Yorkish rite and the Scottish rite. The Yorkish rite demands a belief in Christianity, but the Scottish, only monotheism. –  Charles Koppelman Dec 20 '12 at 6:01
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if the various rites mirror a Christian understanding of the temple or the texts, is participation a tacit condoning of that line of thought? –  Danno Dec 20 '12 at 16:03

3 Answers 3

The former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Rabbi Israel Brodie, ob"m was a freemason. See here where it shows a picture of the Rabbi in the regalia.

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Did he ever answer any questions about it? –  Seth J Dec 19 '12 at 23:14
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while I see this as an interesting fact, was there ever any codification into a halachic position? My rabbi liked he Grateful Dead. Others would say that he shouldn't be listening to them. –  Danno Dec 20 '12 at 16:04
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@Dan So we have a machloket. What else is new? –  Double AA Dec 20 '12 at 19:03
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@SethJ This rabbi apparently wrote a book on it. I don't have the book, however. –  b a Feb 7 '13 at 6:48

Actually only 1 "house" of the 4 York Rite houses asks that you are willing to defend the Christian faith, not actually be a Christian. Many non Christians join this house with the understanding that many of us Christians would also defend the Jewish, Islamic, and various other faiths as well. A majority of the York rite is based on people and events around Jerusalem. Knights Templar is the exception, and does not have to be joined. Each additional house is optional.

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What does "defend the Christian faith" mean? I'm certainly willing to defend Christians. Anyway, welcome to the site, and thanks for the answer, which would be much improved if you'd edit into it sources for your claims. (Otherwise we have only your word to go on and, no offense, but none of us know you.) Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  msh210 Dec 20 '12 at 15:12

Rabbi Kolon of Italy (The Maharik, mentor of Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura) allowed doctors of the time to wear a cape that signified membership of that guild (in Shu"t 88, translated here). He explained that the purpose wasn't "I'm trying to look like a non-Jew", but rather "I'm trying to look like a member of this professional guild to improve my professional reputation."

I'd assume something quite similar would apply here.

While there are multiple opinions, we generally follow the approach that the prohibition on "heathen practices" is only if they are rooted in idolatry or licentiousness, or if they are so completely nonsensical that the only reason you are doing them is to try to blend in with non-Jews. If Freemason membership offers some particular professional advantage (or better enables one's philanthropy or the like), I don't see it violating any of those problems -- though someone more knowledgeable could discuss if its roots are pagan.

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Any source for "we generally follow the approach..."? –  msh210 Dec 21 '12 at 1:53
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@msh210 This has been covered here before (a number of times, by Shalom actually) judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/4165/… and judaism.stackexchange.com/a/12355/759 and judaism.stackexchange.com/a/536/759 and judaism.stackexchange.com/a/538/759 etc. etc. Basically it's a machloket Rishonim and a machloket Rama vs Gra how to paskin. CYLOR. –  Double AA Dec 21 '12 at 2:13
    
But does Freemason membership enable that kind of advancement? Professional guilds make sense, but is this like that? –  Monica Cellio Dec 21 '12 at 15:22
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@MonicaCellio Yes. Many freemasons claim that the connections made at their lodges are very good for business. –  Avrohom Yitzchok Feb 17 '13 at 21:28

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