BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984
In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue Macgregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with
(K) - Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) - Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE
to differentiate them from the questioners.
......continued form part 4
Thank you, gentlemen. We'll move on now to Egham in Surrey and to Mr Jeremy Begbie who's on the line to us. Hullo Mr Begbie.
(Mr Begbie) Good morning. I'd like to bring the discussion back if I may to the more religious aspect of Freemasonry, if I might put it like that, I have heard it said that there's such things as Christian lodges, that is lodges open only to Christians, and secondly I have heard also about Christian degrees, that is degrees which have a specifically Christian emphasis, I'm thinking particularly of the eighteenth degree, the 'Rose Croix', and I'm wondering if I could have confirmation of that.
Well the best person to ask I think is Commander Higham. Are there lodges open only to Christians?
(H) Not lodges, Mr Begbie, but there are masonic units which belong, you identify it correctly, to the 'Rose Croix', which require a Christian belief which is laid on top of the basic masonic requirement for a belief in a Supreme Being.
How does a degree differ from a lodge?
(H) Oh, gosh! Basic masonry, what we call 'Craft' masonry, is the first three degrees in Freemasonry. The third degree extends into the Holy Royal Arch, and then after that you're away from the orders of Freemasonry which are administered from Freemasons' Hall into other masonic organisations, still based, as I say on Craft masonry, and one of them is the Rose Croix, and yes there are Christian degrees and there's no trouble about them because they don't practice Christianity in a way which upsets the Christians who belong to it ....
So really serious Masons can work their way gradually up through the degrees, is that right?
(H) Oh, no, it's not a question of 'working your way up'. The fact that the Rose Croix happens to be called number eighteen doesn't mean to say that it's superior to the first three. I mean basically all your masonic organisations are independent, they are in charge of affairs within their own order of masonry, but they don't try and jump over each others' backs and say that we're senior or higher. If you're interested in Freemasonry, yes, you can go off and join a lot of other degrees and you find a lot of satisfaction in doing it.
Mr Begbie, are you satisfied with that answer?
(Mr Begbie) Thank you. If I may just quickly follow up the last point about the eighteenth degree, we've been told that there aren't, there isn't anything like, a sacrament in Freemasonry, however in the eighteenth degree ritual, which I have been lent, there seems something very akin to a sacrament toward the end of that ritual, could I have your confirmation on that? Or is that to detailed a question?
(H) I don't think it's too detailed. I can tell you that it's not sacramental, if you read your ritual you'll find what the reason for it is, it's an ancient Oriental custom of fellowship, but not a sacrament at all. You won't find the..., any element of worship or sacrament in that if you read it properly.
...continued in part 6