Lutherans Informed about Lodges (LIL)
Answer: The following article appeared in the Northwestern Lutheran
The Eagles have a long history of civic, humanitarian and social service. For that they may be appreciated.
However, the Eagles also have religious elements that are inherent in, not incidental to, the organization. The initiation ceremony asserts that the teachings of the order, to which the candidate pledges himself before an altar, "will in no way conflict with any civic or religious duty." Yet the prescribed rituals and prayers present precisely such a conflict.
Belief in a supreme being is a requirement for membership; but that deity is not (at least not necessarily) the Triune God. Eagles' ceremony holds the Bible in high regard, but without regard to the Savior who is the focus of that Bible.
The Eagles have chaplains who offer prayers, but not in the name of Jesus. The content of those prayers suggests universalism (that all Eagles apart from Christ will enjoy eternal bliss) and work righteousness (that our moral and civic efforts earn God's favor).
The prayer for the opening ceremony of a lodge meeting includes these words: "If we believe all men equal in Thy eyes, we shall be the more worthy of Thy loving care."
The initiation ceremony concludes with the assurance of enjoying "eternal rest" at the conclusion of life's struggle. The memorial service conducted at the request of a lodge member's family includes the words: "He believed in the existence of a Supreme Being, the Father of us all, and in this belief he died in the hope of a blessed immortality beyond the grave." The prayer from that service says: "We shall meet again in the Grand Aerie beyond, where the faults and frailties of this earthly life are forgotten, and all become perfect in the love of an infinite God." A mandatory, annual memorial service for members who died during the year includes this same teaching of life eternal in the "Grand Aerie of Heaven," apart from faith in Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6 addressed a similar question regarding a Christian's participation in "lodge" ceremonies associated with pagan deities. He writes: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers ... What fellowship can light have with darkness? . . . 'Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.' "
A spokesperson at the F.O.E.'s national headquarters indicated that some chapters may allow social participation, but that membership requires subscription to the order's tenets and ritual which remain unchanged. An officer of one local chapter was willing to accept non participation in the prayers of ritual (members normally add their "Amen"). However, membership itself and the initiatory pledge are an inherent contradiction of our Christian confession.