The York Rite is one of the major concordant bodies of Freemasonry in which a Master Mason may proceed to supplement or amplify the Craft degrees, affording historical background on the work and meaning of Freemasonry. The York Rite is an concordant body of Masonry, and confers degrees beyond the Blue Lodge's three degrees. In the York Rite, a Master Mason may become a member of three bodies — a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, a Council of Royal and Select Masters, and a Preceptory of Knights Templar. It consists of nine additional degrees: Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason; the Cryptic Degrees of the Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master; and the Chivalric Orders of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, Order of Malta and the Order of the Temple. The Templar orders, which comprise the last degrees of the York Rite, are specifically Christian. Or at least, it can be stated that the oath is: in some Grand Lodges in the US and abroad, one need not be a Christian, but rather only be willing to take a Christian OATH. The difference here is that there are some who would willingly swear to defend the Christian faith on the grounds that they would defend any man's faith. The Chapter (or Royal Arch) and Council Of Royal And Select Masters (Cryptic Rite), which comprise the first two sections of the York Rite, are not specifically Christian.
The York Rite takes its name from the old English city of York. It is said that Athelstan, a British king, was converted to Christianity in York and that he granted the original charter to the Masonic guilds in that city nearly a thousand years ago. The York Rite is not a religion. Like the Craft lodge, the Chapter and the Council are based upon the building of King Solomon's Temple. The Preceptory has a theme of Christian chivalry.