Court: Masons Religious Group

Freemasonry may rank with Christianity, Judaism and Islam as an official form of “religious exercise,” a California court of appeals suggested in a ruling on Oct. 3.

As such, Masons would fall under the protections of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), the landmark law that says government may not infringe on religious buildings without a compelling interest.

“We see no principled way to distinguish the earnest pursuit of these (Masonic) principles … from more widely acknowledged modes of religious exercise,” the statement said.The court concluded that “chief” Masonic principles include “the reverence of a Supreme Being and the embrace of other forms of religious worship.”

Despite city codes that restrict the use of the building to Masonic-related activities, the Scottish Rite Cathedral Association of Los Angeles rented out the cathedral for non-Masonic events, including concerts.

As a result, the Los Angeles city council withdrew the Cathedral’s certificate of occupancy in 2005.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday October 15, 2007.
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