Question: What is the value of a ritual presentation?

Question: What is the value of a ritual presentation?

Ritual forms are a useful teaching tool in a semi-literate society

Nothing is divine about Freemasonry and indeed Freemasonry has rejected any and all attempts to portray it as a religion. However, masonic ritual forms are very useful as a teaching tool, particularly in situations such as were found in Nauvoo in the 1840's where many members could not read. The 1850 Illinois census was the first to gather data on literacy. According to the aggregate data taken from the census, in 1850 almost 11% of all white adults 20 and older in Illinois couldn't read or write. [1]

Literacy was higher in the East. However, the literacy of the populous areas to the east is a poor marker for what it would have been on the western frontier. Women in particular often had markedly lower literacy rates than men. This lower literacy rate for women was also true of the western frontier, with some affidavits from women in Nauvoo signed with an X: they couldn't even write their own names. Even in 1870, 24 years after the exodus from Nauvoo, 11.5% of the total white population of the United States over age 14 was functionally illiterate. [2] Consider also the introduction of immigrant groups among the Saints from Scandinavia and other countries.

Thus, a participatory form of teaching the temple concepts makes perfect sense. Using ritual forms found in masonry as instructive tools to teach a divine message is what we are dealing with here.


  1. Illinois Census 1850: A) Total population: 851,470. This is made up of 1) Total white males: 445,544 2) Total white females: 400,490 3) Total free colored (male and female): 5,436. White adult males unable to read and write: 16,633. White adult females unable to read and write: 23,421. off-site
  2. "Literacy from 1870 to 1979," National Center for Education Statistics.