The candidate, as instructed, knelt at the altar. In front of him in the east, the Worshipful Master stood at his podium and asked a question we have all been asked, "In whom do you put your trust?"
Having encountered similar hesitation before, the composed WM rephrased the question and asked, "In whom do you put your spiritual trust?"
After another long pause the candidate finally answered, "I guess I put my trust in myself. If you are trying to get me to say I put my trust in God, I can't. I don't believe in God."
Another period of silence followed. Still composed and carefully assessing the situation, the Master asked, "Would you please repeat what you just said?" The candidate repeated his answer. Standing before a hushed and stunned Lodge, the veteran Master knew exactly what he had to say next, "Brother Senior Deacon, you will escort the candidate to the preparation room."
Freemasons believe in God; and we take it seriously. It's not just lip-service. We tolerate all religions, but hold a belief in Deity as the single non-negotiable requirement to becoming a member. No exceptions. And no exception was made that night, either.
Epilogue: This incident took place early a couple years ago, at Brotherhood Lodge #269 in St. Joseph, Missouri, with a friend of mine, Dennis Vogel, presiding. The Missouri petition is very clear in stating that the candidate holds a strict belief in God, but this candidate signed the petition anyway. The investigating committee covered the issue of belief in God with the candidate; and the candidate very skillfully crafted a satisfactory answer. The question in Lodge, however, "In whom do you put your trust," doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room... as the candidate discovered.