The late Walter Martin used to argue that they are. Now you can see the video. In the limited reading I did back in the late 80s I came to the same conclusion. Back then the lodges were on the decline and my concern was about my (now late) grandfather who was quite devoted to the Masonic Lodge. He was an accomplished Scottish Rite Mason and a “worshipful master.” He was buried with Masonic rites in his Lutheran congregation. The oddest claim the Masons ever make is that the lodge is “not a religion.” When I go to the gas station, I don’t see any altars but in the Lodge?
The video is part 1 of a multi-part video of a discussion with representative of the lodge in Boise. The Masonic fellow admits that there are altars in Lodges. When is an altar not religious? In my discussions with my grandfather, he finally conceded that he had to choose between Jesus’ claim of exclusivity and the Lodge. At that time he said he had to choose the Lodge. I wish all Masons were as clear thinking as my grandfather but I pray for them, as prayed for papa, that they would choose Jesus over the lodge.
In a related story, I see that the Emergent folks think this is a stupid discussion. More on that later.