The Scottish Rite Degrees put into picturesque but explicit language the civic and social ideals implicit in the Blue Lodge Degrees. For centuries Freemasonry has been a tremendous force for enlightenment, freedom and social progress in Europe and the Americas. It was neither caprice nor mere prejudice that caused the Nazis and Fascists to proscribe Freemasonry. Why did the Nazi oppressors hate Masonry? Why did they violate the emblems of the Craft? Why did they hunt down with ruthless cruelty our Masonic leaders? Particularly, why did the totalitarians persecute “Masons of all degrees”? They knew that tyranny is threatened wherever a Masonic lodge or temple exists.
Freemasonry is a compelling and conquering spiritual force, and the reasons are revealed in the Scottish Rite Degrees. Scottish Freemasonry is the foe of intolerance, fanaticism and superstition. It battles every form of racial and sectarian prejudice and bigotry. It is a mighty exponent of freedom in thought, religion and government. Thus, the Scottish Rite is a rite of instruction. It interprets the symbols and allegories of Masonry in the light of history and philosophy, using the words of the supreme prophets of humanity, ceremonies of the great religions of the world and significant episodes from history to point the moral and adorn the tale.
The Scottish Rite makes application of the doctrines of Freemasonry to every realm of human activity. The individual Mason is taught to put into practice in his personal life and thought the lessons learned in the Blue Lodge.
Socially, the Scottish Rite is Freemasonry militant, not in the sense of propaganda and agitation, nor by endorsing specific causes or sponsoring particular political movements, but by showing through illustrations from history and human evolution how the Mason may make his influence felt for the principles of free thought, free government, free education and free religion. The Scottish Rite Mason is the foe of intolerance, bigotry and ignorance in all their forms. That is what the Scottish Rite Degrees are all about.
The mural featured above was painted by Allyn Cox. It portrays U.S. President George Washington laying the cornerstone of the national capitol in a Masonic ceremony under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Maryland, September 18, 1793.