Thursday, July 13, 2006

Why are southern Masons still racially segregated?

W. Bro. Elliot Burns, who runs the American Mason website, recently posted this letter from a new Mason, along with his response to the letter.

I just received this email from a masonic brother who had, in my opinion, a very compelling question for American Mason. But I will not print his name or email address. After all, I am a "beacon" of discretion, right? Other than deleting the sender's personal info, I have reprinted his email verbatim as I have received it:

Q. I was raised and made an obligated Master Mason on xx/xx in 2005 in XXXX Lodge. I have but one question.

Being from the South, in every essence, we are behind the times. I have been informed that the Free & Accepted (masonic) Lodges in the north USA are integrated. Is this true? And if so, why not in the south?

Several brothers who have been Master Masons for more than 40 years have informed me that the day they sit in lodge with someone who is not white is the last day they will be a mason. Please help me out with this question. Thank you.

A. Sad to say, old habits die hard, no?

To answer your question, most lodges in the north (USA) are, in fact, fully integrated. My masonic lodge in New York is fully integrated in terms of both race & religion and the sublime spirit of friendship and brotherly love is everything that a mason could possibly hope for. But enough of my boasting.

It's hard for me to point an accusing finger at another masonic lodge. But I gotta' tell ya, in this case I certainly don't hesitate!

I don't get how a mason could seriously take his "Solemn Obligation" to love and honor all mankind and, at the same time, harbor racism and predjudice in his heart. This truly baffles me. If someone is a racist, why bother to become a freemason? It's a perfect contradiction in philosophy and mindset.

My only guess is that the members of your southern lodge use masonry as a social club to benefit each other rather than use masonry to broaden their outlook and better themselves through the masonic principles. But it's not just the south that has this problem.

I am sorry to say that I have personally heard the same remarks (privately whispered) in a another lodge in New York! It's real rare, but apparently it still exsists. I find all of this racism abhorrant and loathesome and I never want to associate with these morons on ANY level... let alone the Masonic level. They are not "brothers" to me!

Good luck to you and I believe that since you do have a problem with your lodge's racism, you should seriously look into affiliating with another lodge that is closer to your heart and mind and ideals of our honorable craft

Best Fraternal Regards, Elliot

Thanks to TubalCain420 for the heads up on this site.

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  1. because they answer no one!
    if my GL had balls, they would call these other GL out on it, but ooohhhhhhhhh no, we don't get involved in other states business.
    well, if a masonic group does not believe in tolerance and equality, then they are not following the real charges of masonry and should be considered clandestine at the least, if not UNMASONIC!
    disgraceful to any enlightened man let alone mason

  2. Have you considered filing charges of unmasonic conduct against your Grand Lodge members for their willful failure to act with tolerance and equality?

    — W.S.

  3. my GL recognizes PH masons,
    i've been to multiple degrees with them.
    It is the fact that my GL will associate with other GL's who refuse to accept PH's as equals.
    PH's are recognized by UGLE, but some siuthern GL's feel that recogniton does not cross the color barrier!
    My GL officers are full blooded cowards seeking titles and dare not rock the boat of gravy training appointments!

  4. Good suggestions and comments. I agree that we should pressure GLs that recognize PH lodges from extending recognition to GLs that do not similary recognize. Recognition of PH lodges is just one step, and it merely moves the institution of the GL away from bigotry. It does not solve the problem of indivual bigotry at the lodge level. I've never heard of anyone facing Masonic charges for bigoted comments. I can only imagine the astonishment and anger that would meet the brave brother who sought such charges. In many lodges that I have visited, I fear that the request would backfire and result in charges of "non-Masonic" conduct against the complaining brother. I'm sure any witnesses to the event would scatter to the Four Corners instead of testify against their good ol' buddy at the lodge.

    BUT: If merely one lodge took a strong stance and took such charges seriously, it would develop a reputation that would be appealing to many masons who are tired of the bigotry. The old men could meet alone and wonder why no one under 40 wants to join their lodge, but instead drives across town to a lodge that has chosen a color-blind path. The GL would soon notice.

  5. Southern Grand Lodges are run by folks wh owould have been Klan members in another era. You can't prefer charges against Grand Lodge members! It'll disappear! Just like the RRCG folks. They were made to "disappear" when they tried to bring reforms to the "Grand Bigot Lodge of Georgia"! It's all a sham in Georgia, as it is in Alabama and other Southern lodges. All Smoke & Mirrors!!!

  6. Addendum-

    "You'd have better luck pulling a monkey out of F. Ray's shiny red arse than to prefer charges against any Georgia Grand Lodge member!"

    Signed Proudly,

    Darren A. Simpson
    "come an get me!!!"

  7. To anaonomouus, it is already happening, not just because of race, but idealogues and generation. The young men joining of their own volition are progressive, intelligent and logical, the old guard masons are follow orders, don't ask questions or rock the boat type of guys. The clash is happening up north due to most of the masons up north are southern transplants while the yuth are northernerns and are clashing! We've been receiving demit after demit because all youth control the temple, we've raised dues, no old mason believes in supporting his lodge via dues, so they are all demitting and we are gladly filling them and sending them on their way.
    Full steam ahead brothers, peddle to the metal, open it up and let it roar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    dropped the old lady off at the airport, kid is at mother-in -laws, had a few cocktails at an airport joint!
    God bless women and god for creating them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. What are lodges in the midwest like? Does anyone have any first hand experience with bigotry in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc.? Just curious.

  9. Keep in mind that this is only partially about recognition of Prince Hall Masons. Many PH don't want to be absorbed by another institution. They want to maintain their own. PH Masons include many civil rights advocates, who aren't trying to integrate with F&AM Masons.
    Which is not to say that the status quo is right or desirable. Honorable men should be included in either group regardless of the accidental of skin color

    Steve, MM
    Beltsville MD

  10. Racism, Hate, and Bigotry ARE NOT just a "Southern Thing". It is found in the four corners of all Lodges in America.

    Any GL jurisdiction that "claims" they recognize Prince Hall Masons or the RIGHT of African-American men to become Free-Masons BUT yet they do not have joint meetins, or allow cross visitation have changed nothing.

    Any GL jurisdiction or Appendant body who claims they recognize Prince Hall Masons but still recognise GL jurisdictions that refuses the same are no better.

    Am I to believe that racism comments are not made in Lodge rooms in all 50 states? I doubt it.
    So when we use the broad brush to paint the picture of racism in Free-Masonry be sure it covers the whole canvas.

  11. David C is absolutely right. I've encountered more racism in Minnesota (Minnesota?) than I ever did in any of the "southern" lodges I was a member of or visited. I suppose you can say one "positive" thing about southern GLs - they don't hide their bigotry, like some north of the M-D line do.

  12. If that is racist, is not having women in the lodge sexist? I am not racist at all, just bringing up a straightfoward point. I myself am in a lodge down south, there are Prince Hall lodges as there are up North. The only difference is recognition. Also, there are two men in our district who are black. Most just choose to go to Prince Hall first. I also want to point out that in my opinion, if there is a group of solely white men meeting (I'm not speaking in particular about masons) who want to meet in their own group it is not racist. One who is white should not be made to feel ashamed or unenlightened because he likes the presense of others with similar heritiage. Look all around you there are groups existing for all races and religion that somehow or someway exclude. But to the point Southern Lodges do not ban blacks, they just don't recognize Prince Hall. I understand the concern here, but in reality there is little difference between lodges in the north and the south.

  13. Some of the things being said on here such a bigotry and racist are not only rediculous but uncalled for. Please gentlemen grow up.

  14. Mr. Anonymous from Florida,

    Segregation in southern lodges is not about liking to be in the presence of those of similar heritage; it's about disliking being in the presence of those of different heritage.

    In your hypothetical happy group of 10 white men, what is number 11 white man who joins supposed to do if he thinks the group should be multi-racial? What typically happens is that the first 10 tell #11 "if you wanted to be with them, you should have joined their lodge."

    No one is making anyone feel ashamed. That's a personal choice, feeling shame. Either you feel that way or you don't; who cares? But feeling unenlightened is sometimes a matter of fact. If you're a racist or segregationist or bigot, you're unenlightened and unMasonic, as Masonry's purpose is to unite mankind, not divide it.

    — Widow's Son

  15. "But feeling unenlightened is sometimes a matter of fact. If you're a racist or segregationist or bigot, you're unenlightened and unMasonic, as Masonry's purpose is to unite mankind, not divide it." This is your own interpretation of what Masonry means what to you. I am not saying its wrong, but you are taking your interpretation and writing it as fact. Bigotry, Racism, yes they are absolutely wrong. I my opinion above I was mainly addressing how I tire of people overusing these words. I have a question for you- are you a co-mason-letting in men and women?

  16. Anon,

    As I hold that the mission of Freemasonry is to promote the brotherhood of all mankind under the All-Seeing Eye of Deity, then, yes, I would say that someone who promotes the segregation of the races is unMasonic.

    Widow's Son

  17. Are you a co-mason widow's son? This question is not meant to insult by any means. I will reveal my name, since you decided to change the requirement. Now please answer this question.

  18. John,

    Thanks for using a name, any name. I can't keep up with posts by multiple "anonymous" visitors. Without a name, no picture of a personality develops in my mind.

    No, I am not a co-Mason. I am a Master Mason in good standing.

    I was raised in a regular, conventional Antient lodge working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. I have held or acted as pro tem in all the Chairs. I have been the presiding Worshipful Master during initiations. I was also Director of Masonic Eduction for my lodge for three years.

    I am a member of two lodges, and an honorary member of a third.

    I support the right of Co-Masons to exist and practice Masonry. I support the right of the United Grand Lodge of America and the Grand Lodge of All England and the new Grand Lodge in the Philippines to exist and practice Masonry as their hearts dictate. I support the right of all Masons to practice Freemasonry. And, as I said before, I see the mission of Masonry to be the Brotherhood of Man under the All-Seeing Eye of Deity.

    Why do you ask?

    Widow's Son

  19. Widow's Son, this is John. I just didn't want to jump to conclusions, because it would unfair of me to assume that you are something which you are obviously not-a co-mason. You like to point out the mission of freemasonry, and the want for all men to be equal. I do not disagree with this statement, but to say this is the meaning of masonry is sort of taking that out of context. The same men who wrote "All Men are created equal” are the same men who obviously did not believe this in a literal sense. However, you use this is as the reasoning behind much of what you are saying. I think it is highly unlikely that the early masons would be in agreement with what you believe to be the meaning of masonry. I understand your argument, yet I disagree with some parts. Sorry if there are grammar mistakes here, it is late and I am too tried to proofread.

  20. Maybe we should take this discussion one step further. Do any of you know of any African Americans being raised in AF&AM or F&AM Lodges? I have met several caucasion Brothers who were raised in PH Lodges.


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