The Order of the Arrow, Freemasonry, and Catholicism

I have a legitemate and relevant question in regards to the Order of the Arrow, Freemasonry, and Catholicism. However, I cannot ask it blindly unless at least some people here are members of the Order of the Arrow or at the very least familiar with it.

I myself am a member of this organization – considered the national honor society of scouting – yet I have concerns over certain aspects of it, and as you may have noticed, freemasonry (that organization so bitterly condemned by the Church) is tied in.

I apologize in advance for not straight out asking anything or really allowing anyone to answer, but I just first want to see if there is anyone here with whom I can converse about it with.

P.S. No where are on the web will you (or should you) find anything about the ceremonies or secrets of the OA, but if I can just get a dialogue going with someone who understands, I’d appreciate input from anybody. Thank you.

from Wiki - not sure if it is accurate.

Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with millions of members.[1] It exists in various forms worldwide, with shared moral and metaphysical ideals and in most of its branches requires a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being.

What is Supreme Being? Who is Supreme Being?

If I’m not mistaken, I think it’s God, and I think you secretly worship Him.

(Yes, your secret is revealed :wink: )

By the way, the Boy Scouts of America requires belief in some sort of God (feel free to substitute Supreme Being) in order to even be a scout, but neither does it specify in what way you should practice your religion. If you read the rest of that Wiki page or consult with the masons I know, you’ll find that the BSA policy is the same as the Freemasonry one.

And if you think Freemasonry is some sort of deistic religion with “The Supreme Being.” as its deity: Consider how it was our deistic founding fathers who put “In God we Trust” on our dollar bill and national seal. If they didn’t worship God and instead just worshipped this “Supreme Being”, why would they use the word “God” here? The answer is that the two terms are interchangable!

However…Remember, I didn’t pose my question yet and am still waiting to find an OA member here.

I believe that the Girl scouts took God out of their oath many years ago:( too bad.

The OA (overeaters anonymous) say higher power, my mom was a member awhile ago, but no more.


:slight_smile: OK my mom was an OA member for a couple years but she said it helped her because they let her talk about all her problems and they did heve to speak the oath which she did not feel comfotable with not saying God. She got to talk on and on without any criticism from my dad or anyone so it was just an outlet for her but then it did hekp her self esteem and then she didn’t feel like eating so much. So the fellowship helped her but she still had to live with my dad. It was an escape. Isn’t that what Order’s are about. Not a way of life I man but a temp escape for a day a month.

I know nothing about the Order of the Arrow but Freemasonry is definitely condemned (rightly so) by the Church. Freemasonry and Catholicism are incompatible and a Catholic is forbidden to become a Freemason. To do so is a grave sin.

Why do you say the Order of Catholicism?

Define what you mean by Order.


The reason Freemasonry’s unacceptable is that it sets up a separate/parallel religion for its members. Swearing to a “Supreme Being” isn’t objectionable in itself, because you do believe in a Supreme Being.

What the??? :eek:

I don’t even want to *swallow *whatever OA this is that you’re talking about, but I’m talking about the Order of the Arrow.

I have been a member of OA in the past and as a person deeply involved with Scouting for over 45 years have known a lot of OA members including three of my five sons. I cannot quite see how anyone would connect OA to Free Masonary except in an extremely superficial manner. I would assume that some Masonic Groups sponsor Scout units although I am not familiar with any.Yes, the Boy Scout movement requires a Scout to believe in God/Supreme Being/Higher Power because Scouts come from all faiths that believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So Muslims, Christians, Jews and Deists all qualify. An atheist would not meet the requirement and I have personally set on a board that denied Eagle Scout rank to a boy who was a professed atheist. I will answer if I can, so ask away. By the way I am a Roman Catholic and Counsel both girl and boy scouts earning Catholic Religious Awards such as Ad Altari Dei and the Marian Medal.

O.K. I understand this sentiment, which is why I am waiting for someone who is a member of the Order of the Arrow before I pose my question.

Many, many years ago I was selected as a boy scout for OA, but I have only very faint memories of the ceremony. Sorry

The Boys in your unit must have recognized you as an outstanding Scout for that to happen. Congratulations!

Oh I’m sorry got confused about what you were talking about:confused:


First off, you will find that any fraternal organization that doesn’t readily disclose information about itself is automatically determined by someone, somewhere as tied to freemasonry (whether it actually is or isn’t). Further, as a past MC for our local OA lodge, I can tell you that although you won’t find anything on the web, within the OA we were not allowed to refuse someone access to our ceremonies because they aren’t supposed to be considered secrets, just private and therefor unpublicized and not given out without good reason (so I was told by all of the leaders I spoke with in my lodge about it). Now, as a matter of practicality, I never had a point where I was asked by someone not in OA or entering OA about the ceremonies, and therefore was never required to discuss them, but if a parent had requested attendance, it would have been granted. As a private matter, for most people, it’s not really their business, I don’t discuss or share the contents of the ceremonies and having gone through at least one of the ceremonies, (if you remember much, in my experience most people don’t) you probably know that there isn’t anything bad about them.

As mentioned earlier, BSA is very religion oriented, and makes it a point not to step on any religious toes, OA, at least officially, does the same (you will always be able to find groups that play by there own rules, and the national OA hierarchy doesn’t exactly have a tight reign on the lodges, at least from my experience).

refuse someone access to our ceremonies because they aren’t supposed to be considered secrets,** just private** and therefor unpublicized and not given out without good reason

Except such an argument is used by all “secret” societies or organizations about their rituals. For Masons, they deny being one of those condemned “secret societies” because their membership lists are publicly available, so they are as was commonly put out a while ago, “not a Secret Society, but a society with secrets” (meaning, of course, the initiation rituals and Lodge business). For Temple Mormons the slogan is “its “Sacred” not “Secret””. Even the Knight of Columbus use the rhetoric in re-labling their ceremonials and business as being “private” rather than “secret”.

Such re-labeling doesn’t really accomplish anything except create a false sense of security for those who don’t want to know. Getting rid of the label “secret” doesn’t make Freemasonry acceptable in Catholicism, except to those who don’t want there to be a problem.

But you are right, no one really cares about the “business” of any of the organizations; but then how much a particular Lodge contributes to a local charity was not among the “aims” and “principles” of the “masonic” orders condemned by the Church (or anyone else I have ever witnessed). Just like any board meeting, its “private” and none of anyone else’s “business”.

As for the OP:

Try reading past the oft-quoted snippets of the various decrees, but digest them entirely and look for the attitudes and beliefs that are being labeled by the Church as “Freemasonry”, and discern for yourself if the Order of the Arrow fits, if the Church hasn’t clarified the matter in particular. Starting from a false premise of rhetorical sleight of hand isn’t going to allow you to find the answer to the question that hasn’t been asked (yet).

Masons also claim to require a belief in a Supreme Being while allowing its membership to define that belief and worship as they will. Yet, masonry also *defines itself *as an educational entity of a “system of morality…”. MAsonry inculcates and promulgates a systematic philosophy which the Church has called out and determined is incompatible with the religious truths it teaches.

Not being a member of the OA, I’ve resisted (until now) to respond as all I can say is learn the core of what, and WHY, the Church objects to “freemasonry” (a term you will find is as broad in Church lingo as “Modernism”) and weather the Order has that character. Merely having a ritual is not enough; even if that same ritual has squares or compassess, or any other superficial “borrowing” of symbol, or that ritual is held to be secret or “private”. Otherwise you could just as conclude that the OA is as much a Mormon organization as a masonic one, if one were to use superficial criteria as certain of its symbols as I know it to have & use.

I was inducted as a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow (though it’s been a while), and I don’t recall anything immoral about any of the ceremonies for any of the various levels. But I’m open to helping if I can.

So, what’s the question?

Arrowman, Boy Scout, Catholic, Ad Alteri Dei counselor: Perfect :thumbsup:

Well anyway, within my family there is someone who is long-time member of the local Masonic Lodge (I won’t disclose who in my family), and knowing this person, I am basically familiar with the outerworkings of Freemasonry if not the innerworkings. The local Freemasonry Lodge does charity work and helps the local community, and to be honest, I never even perceived it as evil until I came to the forums.

Now, from what I’ve heard, the Church condemns it for its religion-like characteristics and secretiveness, along with taking oaths for things compromising one’s belief in the Catholic Church. Now, if you ask anyone who is *really *a Freemason, they’ll tell you that it is nothing like that. It’s not a religion, it’s not satanic, and nothing sworn about compromises one’s faith at all.

Similarly, I have scout friends who accuse the Order of the Arrow of being a cult. After all, *we *have secret ceremonies, words (the admonition), rituals, handshakes, and other characteristics of “cults”. Not to mention the whole spiritual aspect of the ordeal and the “Spirit of the Arrow” booklets. If your lodge is anything like mine (and all lodges follow the same basic model), you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. At the same time though, you recognize that the spiritual aspects of the OA are interpreted however you want them to be, and in no way are to be a religion themselves. I hate to break the news to you, but the same policy applies with Freemasonry. On a few occasions I’ve even had to explain to scouts who aren’t in the OA that we aren’t a cult and we don’t worship Satan.

Of course, there are even more important parallels between Freemasonry and the OA. The freemason member of my family – while not a member of the OA himself – has talked with other freemasons who are the OA about the ceremonial aspect. The next time I talked to this relative, he said how the freemason and OA rituals are strikingly similar, and how he was even invited to observe it for himself! What’s more? Dr. E. Urner Goodman wasn’t just a member of Unami Lodge 1, he was a member of Lamberton Masonic 487!

So the question becomes: So long as the Church finds freemasonry disagreeable, how could possibly have a clear conscience being in the oddly-similar Order of the Arrow?

Keep in my mind that I waited until I saw a credible Arrowman to pose this question to. In light of all this, had I asked anyone else, they might’ve just dismissed the OA as being as “vile” as freemasonry, but because you are a brother, you understand the truth that it is not. Now, I have long been exposed to the merits of both, and can’t in good conscience decrie *either *as being wicked or compromising of faith. What say you?

Because the Boy Scouts aren’t actively working against the Church, as the Freemasons have been known to do, there isn’t anything particularly “wrong” with them, as long as the Boy Scout Troop is in a Catholic environment. That is to say, the meetings should both begin and end with explicitly Catholic prayers, especially the Hail Mary. NEVER should you send your children to “interdenominational”/“ecumenical”/“non-denominational”/“secular”/“public”/etc. school, camp, meeting, friend’s house, etc.

It looks to me like the main thrust of your question is along the lines of “OA and Masonry are similar so you can’t condemn one without necessarily condemning the other.” Unfortunately, I’m not a Mason, so I can’t comment on that particular angle in your question, other than to say this: OA members are elected by the local scout troops, most of whom are not members of the Order of the Arrow. If you were to tell me that a group that allows non-members to choose who gets admitted, based on the non-members’ evaluation of the candidates’ selfless service to others, is a cult, I would laugh at the very idea. It doesn’t make any sense. And I’d be surprised if the Masons allow non-Masons to choose the new Masons.

That being said, I can say that nothing in the OA ceremonies ever struck me as being incompatible with the Catholic faith. Frankly, I’ve never been impressed with complaints about fraternal societies having “secret” (or private, or whatever) ceremonies – as distingished from religions having them. If you join the League of Red-Headed Men and they require you to put in a certain number of years of service before you advance from “Eyas” to “Nestling” or whatever, and only then do you get to attend the “Flying Bird” ceremony, fine.

If, on the other hand, your religion requires you to worship for several years and pay vast amounts of money before you can learn some of the doctrines of the religion, that’s a problem – because you should know what the religion stands for before you convert to it. That’s not a problem with OA.

Besides, the bottom line is this: the Order of the Arrow is (as you said in your original post) a sort of honor society for the Boy Scouts. Its teachings are very clear (and public): act morally, give cheerful service to others, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that. Now, it’s part of the Boy Scouts, which involves teenaged boys, and the idea of a “secret society” is cool. So the OA projects and ceremonies are set apart, and the members don’t talk much about them to non-members, which increases the OA’s status in the eyes of non-members – who can only join by being voted on by other non-members based on their record of service to others. So the incentives are all clearly good. But a concerned parent is allowed to find out about the program, because there is no cult-like secrecy. So there’s little reason to worry about the OA.

The OA clearly doesn’t pretend to be a religion (in fact, if holy days fall during OA trips, religious services are scheduled for all the relevant groups – Mass on Sunday for Catholics, services for Protestants, etc.). There are no vows that conflict with Christian doctrine, etc.

As for the similarities in the ceremonies, how could there not be? There are only so many ways to conduct an initiation; I wouldn’t be surprised if the ceremonies turned out to be similar to Catholic religious orders’ initiation ceremonies in many ways (a leader intoning things solemnly, candidates’ recitations of promises to obey the rules, admonitions about the candidates’ duties, etc.). If you’re looking for similarities, you’re going to find them. But superficialities like handshakes, rituals, and ordeals are not cultic in nature. I see nothing wrong with the Order of the Arrow.

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