“Is Freemasonry compatible with the Military?”
The quick answer to this commonly asked question is Yes! There are many similarities between the military and freemasonry. Freemasons and military men often have a strong sense of tradition, a personal moral code and sense of duty. They enjoy camaraderie and are willing to help others before they help themselves. There are similarities between uniforms and Masonic regalia, including the display of ranks and medals or “jewels” as they are known in Freemasonry. Finally, Masonic meetings usually end with a formal dinner with speeches and toasts and even a bit of singing, not unlike many military social events.
Don’t Freemasons promote each other? And what about discipline, you can’t have a Corporal as Master of a Lodge full of senior officers?
Freemasons take an oath to support each other in times of need. In reality this means a lot of money is collected for charity which is donated to general charities as well as Masonic ones. In a sense this is preferment “masons looking after each other” but it is not unlike a serving member of the RAF making a donation to the RAF Benevolent Fund as well as other charities. Masons do pledge to support each other but they are specifically told that this support cannot be to the detriment of others.
On a practical note, the military reporting system ensures fairness, there are so many checks and balances that it would be an extraordinary conspiracy if all of the reporting officers and members of the promotion board were Freemasons! To put it in perspective, there are only around 50 members of the RAF Lodge, well over half of whom are retired. The most senior RAF rank is a retired Gp Capt and of the serving members the highest rank is Wg Cdr. It’s fair to say that the handful of serving members of the RAF Lodge are unlikely to be able to run the RAF…!
Discipline is not an issue, Whilst there are ranks in Freemasonry it’s not quite the same as the military. It would be more like the station rugby team made up of a cross section of ranks being captained by a Cpl. The captain calls the shots and makes decisions on the pitch but it wouldn’t mean he’d be shouting at the Sqn Ldr fly half the next day in work!
There are a number of Masonic lodges with close connections to the military, many of whom are part of the Circuit of Service Lodges. Details of other military lodges can be found at their website