The Knights Templar is a Christian-oriented fraternal organization that is based on the history and mythos surrounding the medieval crusading order of warrior monks, known as the Knights Templar, which existed from the 12th to the 14th century. Originally, the Knights Templar were laymen who protected and defended Christians traveling to Jerusalem. These men took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and were renowned for their fierceness and courage in battle. Today, the Knights Templar display their courage and goodwill in other ways. They organize fund-raising activities such as breakfasts, dinners, dances, and flea markets. They support Masonic-related youth groups and they raise millions of dollars for medical research and educational assistance.
Currently, Templar membership consists of people from all walks of life, including doctors, lawyers, clergy, businessmen and entertainment personalities, all of whom profess a belief in the Christian Religion.
The Knights Templar operate on a local, state and national level. But their religious activities extend across international borders as well. Nationally, there is The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. This unit defines the rituals and laws governing state and local level organizations. The state level is called A Grand Commandery of Knights Templar. This organization represents members of a state or an area of equivalent size. Finally, the local level unit is called a Commandery of Knights Templar. There are almost 1,600 Commanderies in communities across the United States, Germany, Italy and Mexico, with over 260,000 members.
The Chivalric Orders of Christian Knighthood consists of three degrees:
The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, The Order of Knight of Malta, and The Order of the Temple.
The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross emphasizes the lesson of truth. Elements of this Order were practiced in Ancient Lodges before the final form of the Master Mason Degree came into use. it is still practiced in the full ceremonial form by the Knight Masons of Ireland and the Knight Masons of the United States, and as the Red Cross of Babylon in the English Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees.
The Order of Knight of Malta emphasizes the lees son of faith. This Order requires the Mason to profess and practice the Christian faith. The pass degree of the Mediterranean Pass, or Knight of St. Paul prepares the candidate for the Order by introducing the lesson and example of the unfearing and faithful martyr of Christianity. The Order is centered on allegorical elements of the Knights of Malta, inheritors of the medieval Knights Hospitaller.
The Order of the Temple is the crowning glory of York Rite Masonry. It is widely regarded as the most solemn and impressive experience in Masonry. Here the aspirant progresses in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth. At the empty tomb grows a sprig of acacia, teaching that we shall dwell forever in the realms of life and light eternal.
Freemasonry demands only a belief in a monotheistic God, where Hindu, Muslim, Jew and Gentile may together worship around its alters. The Christian Freemason alone has at his disposal a branch of the fraternity where he is free to interpret the teachings of the Symbolic Lodge according to his religious belief. The Masonic Orders of Christian Knighthood are the logical outcome of the Christian Mason's belief in Christ as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. That Mason believes Christ's hand will raise the dead to life, and in His Holy Name the True Word is found and restored at last. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.