Historically, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry as we know it evolved as the Rite of Perfection over 200 years ago on the Continent of Europe under the Regulations of 1762. Later, the Grand Constitutions of 1786 were enacted. These became the creative laws for us and all descendant Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Our Supreme Council was organized at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1801 as the Mother Supreme Council of the World, and hence all regular and recognized Supreme Councils throughout the world in some 33 nations must trace their pedigree to us.
But the actual roots of the Scottish Rite go far deeper. Tracing them is a romantic and exciting quest for adventure in the realm of the mind and the spirit. It is a superb story of success - more intriguing than the storied search for the Holy Grail and more rewarding than a successful probe for the philosopher's stone.
We learn our mission in a system of progressive degrees of instruction. We teach our members the highest ethics, the wise expositions of philosophy and religion, the blessings of charity. Our code of personal conduct stems from the precepts of chivalry, the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. We reveal truly the wisdom of the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries and their symbols of words and phrases long considered lost. These were the truths that Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates, Homer and other intellects of the ages held in high esteem, that have reappeared in later religions, and that never were disclosed until after timely preparation and purification of selected and trusted initiates.
Our degrees represent the study and reflection of many men during many years and at heavy cost, the culling of hundreds of volumes for effective portrayals and illustrations, and more labor than the accumulated endeavors of a lifetime engaged in efforts to attain eminence or riches. Our members therefore receive a gift of the greatest value. They gain a comprehensive knowledge of our heritage of history, philosophy, religion, morality, freedom and toleration, and of their relationship to their Creator, their country, their family and themselves. These well may lead also to that understanding of identity, clarity of mind and energy of will that propel toward personal success in life.
We carry out our mission in a series of spiritual, charitable and moral programs. We make living, breathing, vital parts of our activities the rcovery and maintenance of moral standards and spiritual values, the pride of patriotism and love of flag and country, the dispensing of charity without regard to race, color or creed. Our Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children at Atlanta was the forerunner of the vast chain of Shrine hospitals that now stretch across the Nation.
We stand for positive programs but fight with moral courage and enthusiasm every force or power that would seek to destroy freedom, including spiritual despotism and political tyranny. We believe and teach that sovereignty of the state resides in control of the people themselves and not in some self-appointed dictator or despotic totalitarian. We therefore advocate complete separation of church and state, absolute freedom and protection of religion, press and assembly, and the dignity of every individual. Those we consider vital for the ultimate iberties and independence of our people.
Ours, therefore, has been a strong voice for human dignity, justice, morality and civic responsibility. Through our teachings millions of men and women have discovered an opportunity to lead more rewarding lives. The example of our actions has been as stirring and inspiring as that of our collective commitment to true human progress.