Monday, December 31, 2007

Whether or not to become a Knight Templar.

I have contemplated whether or not to become a Knight Templar for quite some time. Ever since I petitioned my Royal Arch Chapter I've been thinking on this subject. It has been hard to find any information or reassurance at all regarding what type of religious sensitivities might be jostled by experience in the Commandery. I thought I would share the information I have been given for the aid of any other Companions who may develop questions similar to my own.

Apparently, a Candidate seeking to be a Knight Templar (at least in the USA?) must be able to answer these questions before being admitted:
  • 1) Do you solemnly declare, upon your honor, that in seeking admission to this Valiant and Magnificent Order of Christian Knighthood you are actuated by no mercenary or other unworthy motive?
  • 2) If called upon to draw your sword in a religious cause, will you give preference to the Christian Religion?
  • 3) Does your conscience accuse you of any crime, unrepented of, which would render you unworthy of becoming a member of an Institution founded upon the Christian Religion and the practice of the Christian Virtues?
I'm unclear whether or not there are "right answers" to these questions. I'm assuming they're looking for "I do", "I will", and "It does not." I don't know how much variation would be tolerated here. :-) Also, it is curious to me that question 3 specifically refers to Crimes. Doctrine does not seem to be the factor here, but whether you've committed a crime contrary to "the Christian Virtues." Which makes me contemplate that I'm not really sure what makes Christian virtues different from the virtues of other faiths.

One point which I'd like to clear up: On the Internet there are some exposes of the Knight Templar ritual floating around which claim the Obligation is made "in the name of the Holy, Blessed and Glorious Trinity," but I have been assured that this is not the case in the USA, and that the obligation is here made "in the presence of Almighty God."

So, as has been said in many places elsewhere, it doesn't appear that one is required to be a Christian or confess any Christian creed or dogma in order to become a K.T. That being said, I have been told that Hebrews, James, Revelation, and particularly Matthew, Luke and Acts are quoted extensively throughout the ceremony. I am here speaking of the Order of the Temple only -- the third Order which the Commandery confers. I have not studied the other two, but am told that they are not implicitly Christian as the Order of the Temple is.

Personally, I'm still undecided. But I thought I'd share what my research has yielded so far.

21 comments:

munkholt said...

This thread at Three Pillars has a lengthy discussion abut the requirements, but I'm not sure if it has a precise answer to what you're looking for:

http://masonicdiscussion.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4031

ChuckEye said...

I've been thinking about this as well, as I've considered joining a local Chapter and Council. The York Rite application specifically asks if you believe in a Christian god, and since I don't generally consider myself a Christian, I'd feel uncomfortable checking that box. A friend who's gone through all the degrees thinks it would be possible for me to stop before getting to Commandry, as that's the only part of York Rite that's explicitly Christian.

He also points out to me that by his observation KT is not about making a Mason more Christian, but seems to stem from the idea of making the Christian church more Masonic... by taking good men that Masonry's made better and getting them more involved in their own churches.

He also says that while the initiations for the Commandry degrees are very nice and memorable, ultimately it's only worth joining if you like marching, 'cause that's about all they do.

Jeff said...

ChuckEye,

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. (eh... no offense intended to K.T.) Chapter and Council are beautiful degrees which I have done and I am very active in, even holding position as an Officer now. They are no more Christian than Blue Lodge is, and they are a wonderful completion to the story of Hiram Abiff and they are very mystical and symbolic. Great Stuff! I couldn't recommend them more. Don't let that little Christian checkbox concern you, just don't check it if you don't feel comfortable doing so and make it very clear on your petition that you are only petitioning for Chapter and Council, not Commandery. I was afraid when I first did that that they wouldn't fully accept me, but I have been warmly welcomed, and am treated completely on the level in all things. Best of luck in your Masonic advancement.

Jeff said...

The thread offered by munkholt in the first comment is highly valuable in my opinion, complete with scanned images from petition forms and other literature. It provides some clarity and scope for the situation as it exists in other jurisdictions and at the General Grand Encampment level. Thanks, munkholt!

Anonymous said...

Just last month I went through the Order of the Temple. The 3 questions are answered Yes or No. 2 are Yes, 1 is No. However, I have met many Masons in the York Rite who share your concerns as well. This is due to the upstanding character that Masons exemplify. Some have thought about it for years before reconciling in their minds that they could, with a clear conscience, answer the questions and go through the Order. In the end, it's entirely up to you to decide.

Abu Doub said...

I got my Chapter & Council degrees in NY, where each YR body is completely separate -- they each have there own charters, by-laws, meetings, and are petitioned individually. In fact, one must have proof of one's good standing in Chapter before petitioning R&SM or KT.

I'm Jewish (among several other paths, none of them Christian), and I just, the other night, affiliated with York Rite in NW (rural) Illinois. I anticipated problems, as they do indeed have a single petition for all 3 York Rite bodies (as well as "dire" warnings from some other Illinois YR Companions), but there was actually no problem at all. I simply did not check the affirmation of Christian belief - which IS on the petition in Illinois - nor did I apply for degrees or affiliation in the Commandery. I was merely affiliated into Chapter & Council, and pronptly put to work in the next capitular degrees!

Abu Doub said...

As to the actual question of joining KT, I could not, in good conscience as a Mason or a man with my particular religious beliefs, apply for or take the Obligation of the KT degree "without mental reservation," etc. So I do not anticipate joing Commandery at any time soon.

I wish I could, but I feel that I would be negating the validity of all the obligations I've taken so far if I were to justify in any way what would be a false affirmation (and, in a very real sense, a betrayal of my family & background) by affirming those points that need affirmation before receiving the Commandery degrees.

1492 may be a "happy" year for most Americans, but those of my people who became subject to the Spanish Inquisition do not remember that year fondly. In that light, I could never - as a Mason particularly - compromise my integrity in order to receive those degrees.

Anonymous said...

Do they have something like this in South Africa?

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Anonymous said...

This is indeed a good topic, and I will weigh in with my own experience. After joining the chapter and council I was asked how come i hadn't joined the order, i simply replied that i was not Christian in my belief and there is a requirement to be Christian. I was asked, well do you believe in Christian values, and i can honestly say yes to that, i was asked would I defend a fellow Christian in battle, I said i would defend any brother, and man who fought on the side of good. Then I thought i dropped the bomb shell, I asked, are you sure you want me, I was raised with Islamic traditions, and well historically the Templars were founded to protect the Christian Pilgrims from the Moors (Muslims) during their passage to the holy lands. I was greeted with a smile and said yes we are aware. I took the first order, and can't remember if i took the order of Malta, but shortly after the same gentlement that encouraged me to join came to me and looked serious. He preceed to inform me that some heated debate had broken out regarding me taking the final order, and the grand commander was displeased. I was informed that it was a half and half split. I could read between the lines, he did not want to say it but it was clear. I simply told him, Look brother, I was honored and am greatly honored that you would even invite me and let me take part in as much as i had done. I'd rather not join a group if its going to make brothers get into arguments with each other, that not worth it. To me taking the first two degrees were special in that I felt honored, however having been a Knight mason (green degrees), i had taken similar degrees and obligations (more generic however) so as far as masonic knowledge, i was already there. For those who do not get this opportunity, i hope you will some day be invited to join the Knight masons where i can call you my cousin. You'll get to play with swords like the Templars do and take very similar degrees. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Eric C. Friedman said...

I just got the post from "Anonymous", and read back over my earlier posts.... What a long strange trip it's been!

I have, in the end, finally joined Commandery... In Iowa. And, to whatever extent the KT are active in my area, so am I (York Rite is hurting around here, in general).

I had a very similar - alomst identical - introduction as the previous commentor, but with the opposite results. The following very accurately describes my experience:
"I was asked how come i hadn't joined the order, i simply replied that i was not Christian in my belief and there is a requirement to be Christian. I was asked, well do you believe in Christian values, and i can honestly say yes to that, i was asked would I defend a fellow Christian in battle, I said i would defend any brother, and man who fought on the side of good."

It was common knowledge that I was Jewish, and not common knowledge (I neither advertised nor actively concealed) that I was also Wiccan. (In actuality, I am no label; I deny nothing, and believe in all religions -- "My mind is my own church").

Someone just made a big deal of "outing" me as Wiccan, and it doesn't seem to have made much of an impression -- I was just offerred a second year as one of the 5 Deputy GHPs of the Grand Chapter next year.

Eric C. Friedman said...

Just for clarity; I - Eric C. Friedman - had also commented under the SN "Abu Doub", above.

Dick Masters said...

Let me be clear and as up front as I can be in the matter of becoming a Knight. Most you will find on the Internet are rip offs of the Knight Legend. YOU CAN NOT BECOME A KNIGHT'S TEMPLAR!!! YOU MUST BE ASKED (INVITED!!!!) Anything else is a "RIP-OFF!!!!
However,... in saying this, you can be invited by placing a request at a Masonic Lodge. Do that first.
And remember,... you may get what you are looking for even if you may not like it.

Anonymous said...

I have joined the knights templar here in South Africa. I found it deply moving and a critical part of my masonic travel. I did have to sign a decleration that I am a Christian before I joined.

Anonymous said...

How do I get started on the path of a knight templar? I have done a greatb deal of reading and i am still not clear where to start. Any help would be great.

thank you

Anonymous said...

from all the research i have done so far, you must start as a mason, and work your way through the ranks. you then put a "request" and they will consider you. it is the KT choice, they will let you know if they find you worthy

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Anonymous said...

Can women join and if not, what is the alternative? I understand a knight is a man but i am so interested in becoming a part of this organization. (please no chauvanist remarks, i am just inquiring. My ancesters are from ireland\scotland and this facinates me)

Magpie Mind said...

Anonymous,

This Templar group may interest you:

http://www.smotj.org/

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Larry R. Herron said...

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