Wednesday, October 04, 2006

School district delays Masonic ceremony after anti-Mason zealot protests

At Bro. Hodapp's Freemasons for Dummies blog, I found a link to an interesting Masonic story out of California.

A religious zealot wrote an email to the local school superintendent, demanding that a planned Masonic cornerstone laying ceremony for a new school building be stopped because "Freemasonry is a cult."

To support the anonymous writer's case, he (or she) quoted from Web Site Prime for all anti-Masonic kooks,, one of the world's most active anti-Masonic websites.

The email, in part, read: "My primary concern is that this ritual Friday will give Satan grounds to oppress or harass the administration, teachers and the students — even if ever so subtly."

The email went on to ask the district to have "mercy on the administration and children of Cottonwood Creek and cancel the ritual or at least postpone it until you are clear in your mind, after due diligence and study, that the ritual is just a dedication or indeed is an avenue of evil to exploit."

The school district has postponed the ceremony until it can be discussed further. One member of the 14-member school board is a Freemason.

Click here for a PDF of the email, a 4-page diatribe which appears to have mostly been lifted from an anti-Masonic site, and quotes heavily from the book and/or website of Catholic former Mason John Salza, about whom we wrote last month. Hey! Maybe MySpace Mike did this?

As an aside: The article, written by a paid, supposedly professional reporter for a supposedly real newspaper, is full of inaccuracies and misspellings. The article attempts to give a condensed history of Freemasonry and of the Masonic cornersone-laying ceremony, yet refers several times to a local blue lodge officer as "the Senior Grand Warren," when in fact, only Grand Lodge officers are "grand" anything, and there is no such office as "Warren." It's Warden.

As another aside: Lonnie Martell, the "Past Grand Warren" of Visalia Mineral King Lodge No. 128, apparently (like me and every other Mason I know) can't keep his ego in check or his passions within due bounds any better than Average Joe Schmoe. He used up his fifteen minutes of fame by whining to the reporter, "I feel betrayed for what we have done for the schools in the past. They got one letter and that was it." The local lodge gives eight $500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors each year. What's that do "for the schools"? (There are 25,000 students in the Visalia Unified School District. That means his lodge donates sixteen (16) cents per student, given in lump sums to eight individuals once they are no longer high school students. Yeah, betrayed!)

Image: A plaster relief sculpture of the Masonic cornerstone-laying ceremony at the U.S. Capitol titled "Laying the Cornerstone of the United States Capitol," by artist Thomas Crawford, created c. 1853-1857

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I wonder if this event will find its way into Dan Brown's upcoming book The Solomon Key.


  1. That means his lodge donates sixteen (16) cents per student, given in lump sums to eight individuals once they are no longer high school students.

    Oh, c'mon now, WS - that's not fair. I have no idea what $500 represents to that lodge, but in my teeny little lodge it's actually a good sum. It represents a certain number of hours of working various fund raisers, etc.

    And all scholarships are given after they graduate high school - the students around here use them to defray the cost of books.

    The Tao of Masonry

  2. I am not demeaning the donations.

    I am pointing out that the Grand Warren was being rather self-centered in saying that his lodge was "betrayed" because of "all they had done for the schools."

    I was taught that lodges don't seek recognition for their good works, yet this man was crying that, in essence, the school system "owed" the lodge something for their past financial support.

    — W.S.

  3. While I don't disagree with you (about the whining), I do feel a lot of sympathy for "Bro. Warren." Donating 8 scholarships each year (or hell, even just one) represents a commitment to that school. It would be nice to see that commitment appreciated by the school in allowing the lodge to do a cornerstone ceremony. The lodge isn't asking for a plaque, or a dinner, or to have their children in that school get special treatment. They simply want to do something that they've probably done a dozen times in the past with no complaints.

    I don't know if I'd use the word "betrayed", but I'd certainly wonder about the school's appreciation for the lodge's efforts over the years if the school (or school board) won't take a stand to say "Grand Warren's lodge has given $20,000 in the last 10 years, and we do not see any reason to refuse their request."

    Or, for that matter, the school board should justcome out and tell the Grand Warren "Know what? We think you're a cult. Thanks for the scholarship money in the past, but it's time we parted ways."

    Should Masons do good works in the community without recognition? I have mixed feelings on that. Certainly some recognition is what draws men of good character to the craft. But I doubt that the efforts to do good works where they are not appreciated, and where your affiliation is scorned could be better put to use elsewhere.

    The Tao of Masonry

  4. Add that to today's "Wiccanism," and the sacred "pentagon," we have a dumb reporter trifecta....

    On a related note, the school district I used to work for 'inherited' VUSD's fired superintendant.

  5. Wow, that is so strange.
    It is interesting that alot of stuff like this happens.
    Either people know nothing about Freemasonry, or they end up slamming it.
    Funny...I dont ever remember a Mason going to any school board and telling them to not allow Baptists in as students, or , for the grade 5 students, not to allow the Guideons to come and give a bible to all those who wish one.
    In this day and age, with so many North Americans of other faiths in this land as the population grows, was it ever considered to allow the copies of the Khoran, or the Tora, or any other religious book to be given out to grade 5's as well?
    I guess this doesn't even come up with the folks slamming.
    It seems that it is only bad if it doesnt involve fundamentalists who know nothing of other sects or fellowships.

  6. Lynn, the most important thing for you to understand is that Freemasonry is not a religion at all; we would no more object to a Baptist or Gideon's Bible than we would to Pop Tarts or cheeseburgers.

    Some members of some religions have an issue with us precisely because we offer up a way of moral teachings without preferring one religion over another. In the cities, it's not unusual to find Methodists, Unitarians, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims all sitting in lodge together. We offer up simple and very generic prayers upon the opening and closing of meetings. Ostensibly these prayers are not addressed to any specific deity - and that leads to issues. Many religious sects beleive that their God is not the same God as everyone else is praying to, and so believe that any prayer not offered up to their particular God is blasphemy or paganism.

    And as to your closing sentence, well, if Fundamentalists opened up their minds, then they probably wouldn't be Fundamentalists anymore, would they? ;-)

    The Tao of Masonry

  7. Freemasons or any group of it's type have been prevelent in most societies throughout history. Any organization that initially taught freedom of religion and thought was always considered bad/evil by the area's local religious institutions and their leaders. That fear which was accepted on faith(through force and guilt) to be what their elders claimed it to be has passed on down through generations and still effects the pysche of man today.
    Basically believing superstitions.

  8. The whole concept of a Cornerstone Dedication is a self-centered way of seeking recognition. That is one reason the Visalia Masons got so angry. If they are truly concerned about supporting education then they should do the supporting and drop the "we are so wonderful - look at us" Cornerstone Dedication ritual. Tom says, "Freemasonry is not a religion...." He then says, "We offer up simple and generic prayers...." Ha! Your thinking is so convoluted. At the very least you are pantheists. If we consider "The Great Architect of the Universe" or the "Celestial Lodge" or Jabulum then Masonic religiosity is more obvious. There is no problem with Masons doing good. There is a big problem with Masons tagging public buildings and schools with their rocks and rituals.

  9. The whole concept of a Cornerstone Dedication is a self-centered way of seeking recognition.

    Okay, so the local Masons, who have not only supported the scholarship, but who as members of the community have probably supported dozens of other programs want some recognition. So what? The local papers are filled with stories about people and organizations that support various causes. A little public recognition doesn't cost anything, and if it helps to get the word out for even more supporters, then so much the better.

    I fail to see why this is even an issue. In fact, I'd also question whether that one complainer to the school board would take up any slack from those who now feel unappreciated.

    Tom says, "Freemasonry is not a religion...." He then says, "We offer up simple and generic prayers...." Ha! Your thinking is so convoluted.

    I don't see how. My Boy Scout troop had a couple of Jewish kids, a bunch of Catholics, and several that went to the local Congregationalist church, as well as some that I don't remember. We started off each meeting with a very generic prayer. Surely you're not going to accuse the Boy Scouts of being Satanic or Pagans?

    In fact, every gathering of Congress has a prayer. We know that Congress is made up of men and women of all religions; are you going to say that the US Congress is Satanic?

    Uh, maybe that was a poor analogy.

    How about sports teams? Are the Panthers really a bunch of Wiccans?

    At the very least you are pantheists.

    No, at the very least we are a bunch of men who belong to a fraternity, of which one of the membership requirements is a belief in a Supreme Being. Since we do not dictate which Supreme Being, or indeed, even define the term, then your assertion is false.

    If we consider "The Great Architect of the Universe" or the "Celestial Lodge" or Jabulum then Masonic religiosity is more obvious.

    Do you understand the term "metaphor"? In Boy Scouts we talked about the "Head Scoutmaster in the sky." People in the Army or Airforce or Navy have similar metaphors for God.

    The "Celestial Lodge" is a metaphor for Heaven, or whatver place one believes their soul resides after death. Surely you've heard many, many other metaphors for this? "The big (fill in the blank) in the sky" is very common.

    Admittedly, "Jabulum" is a mystery word. It seems to have been added long after Freemasonry originated, but there is no clear history or even agreement on what it means. Sorry I can't clear that one up.

    There is no problem with Masons doing good.

    How magnanimous of you.

    There is a big problem with Masons tagging public buildings and schools with their rocks and rituals.

    "Tagging"? As in Masonic graffiti?

    I am always amazed at the people who come up with the strangest ways to justify their beliefs in the evil intentions of Freemasons (or other similar groups). It's difficult to understand how you miss the larger point that we, as a fraternity, promote "The Brotherhood of Man, under the Fatherhood of God", and we do so without insisting that any one theology is right or better than the others.

    Of course, maybe the fact that we do not insist is what causes such consternation. It's too bad that we can't all simply agree to beleive in what we want, and to allow others the same courtesy.

    The Tao of Masonry

  10. stop fronting
    we all know damn well
    freemasonry can not be compared to christianity in any form
    due mostly to the fact that you can learn the rules and rites of christianity with out ever actualy goining a church or religion
    the bible is masonic propoganda
    in and of its self if you ask me but at least its made available to the public
    the fact of the matter is there is a specific intent (wether directly malicious or not) involved with the cornerstone ceremony intened to effect the lives of all who enter the building and there should be an opption for all students not to have incatations and symbolizems looming over there heads every time they enter there school
    or open there wallets


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