The Declaration of Atlanta is the founding document which authorized the first Priory of the Scottish Knights Templar (SKT) to be organized in the United States. The articles of this document also required our separation into a different Order when these articles were violated. The Sovereign Military Order of Christian Knights Templar (SMOCKT) still holds to the validity of The Declaration of Atlanta as our foundational document.
The Declaration of Atlanta
By the Confederation of Scottish Knights Templar
This Declaration Being Drafted on the 682d Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath as a Lasting Memorial to the Knights Templar, Indefeasible, and Setting Forth the Governing Principles of the Order, to be in Force Until the Second Coming of Our Lord.
Drafted on April 6th and approved on September 11th of the Year of Our Lord 2002 A.D., commissioned under the Authority of the Grand Prior General, Confederation of Scottish Knights Templar, Senior Officers and Chivalry of the Non-Masonic Scottish Knights Templar: A New Message drafted in the New World for a New Millennium of Service to our Lord.
We, the undersigned Scottish Knights Templar, acting on accord of the worldwide Confederation of Scottish Knights Templar, do hereby ratify and ordain this Declaration of Atlanta as binding upon ourselves, our Sovereign Priories, our Confederation, and our spiritual heirs and descendants, from this day forward, until the Second Coming of our Lord.
By the grace of our Lord, we proclaim ourselves to be true Knights Templar, and affirm our unbroken lineage from the nine knights who founded the Order in 1118 A.D., and also from those last true Christian Templars who fled persecution in France in March of 1307 A.D. We forever declare the innocence of our Grandmaster Jacques de Molay and our Order, who along with the Order he headed was vindicated by the Council of Bishops at Vienne, and by other dioceses and archdioceses and monarchs throughout Europe.
We hold that King Robert the Bruce of Scotland became a Grandmaster of the Scottish Knights Templar in legitimate election and succession. We also hold that King Robert the Bruce, acting fully within his rights as the lawful Sovereign of the Scots, did ordain by royal decree, for all perpetuity, the right of our Order to exist in Scotland and to serve both Scotland and all Christendom as Defenders of the Faith.
We honor and memorialize forever those Knights Templar who fought at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24th, 1314 A.D., and who not only helped to secure a victory for the Scots, but independence for Scotland. We forever honor Chevalier James Graham, 5th Earl of Montrose, who gave his life to uphold our Templar principles of freedom of worship for all Christians. We pay forever homage to Chevalier Viscount Bonny Dundee, who fell at Killiecrankie while wearing the Templar Knights Grand Cross. We also forever honor and memorialize Grandmaster Bonnie Prince Charlie and those Scottish Knights Templar who fought under his command at the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1745 A.D., and who, although they did not prevail in battle, nonetheless wrote another chapter in the history of Templar valor and gallantry, and inspired the highlander Templars to never give up their hopes or aspirations for a sovereign Scotland.
From Bannockburn to the present day, the history of the Scottish Knights Templar has been inseparable from that of Scotland, and through the will of our Lord, the future of our Order will be inseparable from that of Christendom.
We hereby set forth the following guiding principles of the Scottish Knights Templar, in order to reaffirm the charter of our founders, and to ensure that our Order is never corrupted or compromised in its principles. As the Scottish Knights Templar enter the Third Millennium after the advent of our Lord, we hold the following articles indefeasible and central to the legitimacy and continued survival of the Order:
We forever dedicate ourselves to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the universal, Holy Christian Church that He founded. Originally ordained as a Catholic Order before the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the Scottish Knights Templar is now and henceforth an ecumenical Christian Order, with admission open to all professing Christians, regardless of church affiliation or denomination. We look forward to the day when all Christian churches are once again unified, and until that time pledge ourselves to act as a bridge between the various denominations and congregations of the universal Christian church.
As a Christian Order, we singularly worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in God the Eternal Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, as professed by our Lord and preached by His Apostles. We therefore restrict entry into the Order to baptized Christians, eighteen years of age or older, except that the sixteen-year-old or sons and daughters of Dames and Knights may also be granted full membership. We similarly do not accept Freemasons into the Order, or those who practice pagan or occult beliefs and practices, or other apostates as defined by the Order in the future, as we will not and cannot hold any deities of other religions as equal to our Lord, nor grant membership in the Order to those who do.
We decry all occult beliefs and practices, declaring them to be anathema and forbidden to all Scottish Knights Templar. Any Templar who engages in other than Christian worship is automatically excommunicated from the Order, and will be formally expelled.
As an Order, we will never embrace any sectarian cause or political party, other than concerns oaths of fealty or allegiance to Scotland and those countries hosting our priories. While individual knights and dames are free to hold their own opinions and to take part in the political process, they must never associate the Order with any sectarian or political cause, no matter how noble, lest the Order be identified with that cause and it detract from our holy purposes. The Scottish Knights Templar are dedicated to fostering the rights of Christians in all lands to worship freely, and we consider activities in support of this cause to be more spiritual than secular, as outlined in Article XII.
No officer or official in the Scottish Knights Templar will ever order a subordinate knight or dame to perform any act or duty that violates his or her conscience, or religious beliefs, to include the canon law of his or her church, or the laws of his or her country, or applicable international law.
We are bound to uphold all just and moral oaths, such as oaths of fealty, and marriage or sacerdotal vows, but no secret oath shall ever be required of a Scottish Knight Templar. Nor will blood oaths ever be required of a Scottish Knight Templar, for our Lord is the ultimate Judge of whether or not a just and moral oath has been truly kept and fulfilled. All oaths taken by a Scottish Knight Templar will be taken on the Christian Bible.
We hold, now and forever, that neither titles nor ranks shall ever be for sale, nor will entry into the Order ever be dependent upon any person’s financial or social status. Nor will any knight or dame ever be dismissed from the Order or held in contempt for the inability to pay dues or oblations. Neither shall any priory nor other Scottish Knights Templar governing body ever levy involuntary assessments on any knight or dame. As the true and spiritual descendants of the original “Poor Knights of Christ,” we will never value money or other material things over humble service to our Lord.
All priories in the Confederation of Scottish Knights Templar shall remain autonomous, but shall recognize and honor those officers elected to serve as the governing body of the Confederation, insofar as no magistral decrees or other orders issued by the Confederation may conflict with this Declaration, the statutes of the Confederation, the laws of the land, or applicable international law.
In the case of any priory that violates this Declaration, the statutes of the Confederation of Scottish Knights Templar, or the bylaws of the priory itself, in that such a priory may have departed from Templar principles and operates in such a manner as to bring dishonor and discredit upon the Scottish Knights Templar, the Secretary General of the Confederation may call for a vote of expulsion by all the member priories, and may expel the offending priory from the Confederation, and declare it no longer part of the Order, upon a unanimous vote by all the Grand Priors of the other member priories.
We recognize all other legitimate Knights Templar Orders, and we seek to ally ourselves with other true Knights Templar Orders, but we hold that due to Scotland’s preeminent position within Templar history, we do not recognize, nor admit the existence of, any Templar Order with a superior claim to that of our own.
The Scottish Knights Templar may, from time to time, select a spiritual protector for the Order, and shall pay homage to the same; however, the selection of a spiritual protector will not imply or express an elevation of the protector’s church over any other church body. We also hereby ordain that all Scottish Knights Templar shall render the proper respect to all Christian churches and their lawful clerics and leaders, and will never seek to cause division or schism in the Order due to theological differences between the various churches and their congregations. We also give grateful thanks to the Celtic Church and other Christian churches that have succored the Order in its time of need.
Whereas the Knights Templar were originally founded to protect the Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, we hold as one of our most sacred duties to be an advocate for the right of Christians to worship freely wherever they may reside or travel, and we will not rest until all Christians are accorded this basic God-given right. We hereby pledge our knightly honor as defenders of the faith, as we pray that our Order may once again fulfill its charge to guard the sacred places in the Holy Land.
The Scottish Knights Templar will never reject any postulant on the basis of race, sex, ethnic origins, nationality, social, economic, or educational status, political creed, or Christian tradition. We hold that in addition to being a baptized Christian and a person of good character, the chief criterion for acceptance will be the postulant’s willingness to serve the Order faithfully and without thought of recompense. We similarly hold that no postulant has an automatic right to join the Order, but must be accepted by the membership of the priory to which he or she has applied, and meet the standards established for membership in the Order.
We hold that beneath our white mantles that we are all humble servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we forever mandate that all knights and dames shall be co-equal in the Order, and that no office, title, or rank shall ever be debarred a Knight Templar on the basis of sex, ethnicity, social or financial status, or Christian tradition.
As we remember the brave and valorous Knights Templar who were martyred in the name of our Lord, and who were unjustly imprisoned, tortured, and burned at the stake on the orders of an Unchristian King, we will continue to seek redress within the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church for the wrongs we have suffered, until such time as our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts prevail upon the Holy See and the judgment of history to restore our Order’s holy honor and position in the communion of saints.
The Scottish Knights Templar will forever hold sacred the five indefeasible and indefectible rules of our Order: (1) The Temple and Service thereof, for we are the spiritual descendants of the original Nine Knights of the Order, who first held their conclaves in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and we look forward to its rebuilding; (2) the Love of Meditation, for we must continually look into our own souls, and ask ourselves if we are truly following in the footsteps of the Master; (3) Discipline, for the principles laid down for the Order by our patron saint, Bernard of Clairvaux, are still valid today, and we must remember that we are standard bearers for our faith, and never forget that in all personal choices we set an example, whether good or bad; (4) Knightly Combat, for the Blood Red Cross that we wear reminds us that sacrifices are often required of the faithful, and we must always be willing to battle the forces of evil, whether in the temporal or spiritual realms, whether in this life or in the next; and (5) Brotherhood and Sisterhood, in that each day we must help our brethren, for one day our Lord shall ask us, “Where is thy brother and thy sister?”; and on that day we shall have to give account of ourselves. We must not accept reward, but always be pillars of the Temple, for all the Order holds for us is the opportunity to flee the sins of the world, to live charitably, to be penitent, and above all, to be the humble servant of Almighty God.
In this, our Holy Crusade to further the aims of Christianity and our Order, and in particular to enable the Holy Christian Church to carry out the Great Commission, we pledge our lives, our souls, and our knightly honor.
We, the undersigned Scottish Knights Templar, representing all the priories in the Confederation of Scottish Knights Templar, hold that this indefeasible Declaration will henceforth serve as the guiding principles of our Order, and we declare that any Templars, priories, or governing bodies that depart from them have forfeited their knighthoods and right to be known or called Scottish Knights Templar. Let those who violate these principles and bring dishonor to the Order be summarily expelled, but let those who hold these principles dear and who wish to glorify our Lord be forever known as faithful Knights Templar, and may our Lord give them strength and courage to endure to the end.
Therefore we, the chivalry of the Scottish Knights Templar, dedicate this Declaration of Atlanta to our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and no secrets hidden. We hereby submit ourselves to our Lord, and pray that He will cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love and faithfully serve Him, and worthily magnify His greatness and holiness, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
We also pray that we Scottish Knights Templar may find our inheritance in the Kingdom of God with all the holy knights and saints who have found favor with our Lord in ages past.
O God, the protector of all who trust in You, without Whom nothing is strong, nothing is noble, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us Your mercy; that, with You as our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal; that we lose not the things eternal; that we be Knights Templar worthy of our charges and oaths, and that we fearlessly battle evil in both the temporal and spiritual realms; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, all honor and glory are yours, Almighty God and Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.