Not knowing if or when the charges would actually be preferred or voted upon, I had no opportunity to speak in my defense. I prepared the following speech, and carried it with me to each meeting, so that I might properly and forcefully respond to the charges should they ever be pressed.
It eventually became obvious that the tabling of the matter from meeting to meeting would continue until elections were held in early December. The plan was to shame me from returning to the lodge, to show me that I was no longer wanted, by not voting me to the next highest office, that of Senior Warden, as would have been customary. I attended each meeting, including the election. I was “un-elected” by a vote of 27-4, where a year earlier, I had been elected to the office of Junior Warden by a near-unanimous vote.
Below is the speech I never got to give. I've changed nothing in the text since I first wrote this in September, 2005 except for shortening personal names to initials. As wrong as some of those mentioned here behaved, there is still no reason to plaster their names across the Internet for all time. Those who were involved know who they were.
Since most of you don't know the people involved, a guide to who's who may be helpful.
W.S. — me, the Widow's Son, the one who writes this blog, and who wrote this speech; Junior Warden at the time of these incidents (2005)
J.W. — the Worshipful Master when I was raised
T.W. — my dear friend and confidante, the man whose exemplary life led me to want to become a Mason
B.S. — immediate Past Master (2004) and Tyler (2005) when these incidents occurred
B.W. — a dear friend, a deceased Past Master (not of my lodge) and Director of Masonic Education (of my lodge). I was appointed Director of Masonic Education after he passed away
I.T. — a Past Master and one of the three Past Masters involved in the “Masonic Ambush” discussed here and elsewhere.
K.E. — a Past Master
D.C.— a now-expelled former brother, who pleaded guilty in State court to “sexual exploitation of a child,” and who pleaded guilty in a Masonic court to two charges of “gross unmasonic conduct” for having sex with a child and for videotaping that act.
B.C. — father of D.C., and a Past Master
B.G. — a Past Master and an officer of the Grand Lodge
W.B.— Worshipful Master (2005) at the time of these incidents
E.J. — Senior Warden (2005) at the time of these incidents
G.W. — Non-mason, attorney for D.C.
G.J. — Secretary of the Lodge
D.J. — Masonic attorney appointed for D.C., not a member of my lodge
J.P. — Member of another lodge, co-founder of the Rose Cross of Gold, a Masonic organization later declared “clandestine” by the Grand Lodge of Georgia
F.A. — Junior Steward and friend
The initials above aren't necessarily the real initials of those involved, except for J.W., T.W. J.P., F.A., and the late B.W., all of whom I highly respect, and D.C and B.C., for whom I have absolutely no respect.
I'm not posting this out of anger or malice. I am simply searching for a sense of closure. I have tried to be a good Mason before, during and since these events. Publishing this blog has helped me maintain a sense of still being a Mason. Many of my non-Masonic friends have asked me why I still care — sometimes I cannot answer, but deep down, I do still care. It's in my nature to try to change things for the better.
I tried to gently (and then not so gently) change things from the inside. It didn't work. Working more radically from the outside to change Freemasonry probably won't work either, but try I must.
Small Town Freemasonry — Part 4: Masonic Coverups, Collusion and Cronyism by the Widow's Son
[Give the grand hailing sign of distress, accompanied by the words — to the East, again to the West, and again to the South.]
Worshipful Master, Brother Senior Warden, and Brethren:
Standing before you this evening is a Master Mason who loves this Fraternity as much as any one of you sitting here. In a few moments, you will be asked to raise your hand to decide his Masonic fate. It's only fitting that we take a few minutes for you to know something about me, something about the issues at hand, the hows and whys of what has happened, and what will happen if Masonic charges are preferred against me. Your uplifted hand voting to press charges against me will set in motion certain events that will alter the course of my life, your lives, and the very nature of this Fraternity.
Three years ago last month in this very room I was raised a Master Mason. I was raised by Worshipful Brother J.W., and symbolically also by my dear friend Brother T.W. These two men exemplify Freemasonry to me. They were my first Masonic Brothers, and both will always hold a special place in my life and my heart.
From the very first day I was raised, I have been an active Mason. I've participated in countless Lodge activities — I've served food and coffee at widow's breakfasts, I've shampooed these carpets on clean-up days, I've been here at 6 a. m. to work the Road Race we sponsor, I've driven many of you to the Rock Quarry event. I've served in every Station in this Lodge, including the East, having conferred the E.A. Degree twice, and I've sat in most of the chairs at _____ Lodge No. ___ as well, so many times that I was given honorary membership there. I am a member of the Royal Arch Chapter and the Council of Royal and Sublime Masters. It was I who made the initial suggestion and motion that led to the installation of the flagpole we now have outside, and to the flagpole dedication ceremony in 2004. I'm the one that keeps buying the new Masonic flags for the pole. I've attempted to create a phone tree and an email list so that we could communicate quickly with our non-attending brethren. I created a printed newsletter for the Lodge in 2003.
Several times, I've taken off work during the middle of the day to attend the funerals of your parents or some of your other relatives.
In my desire to serve this Lodge and all of Freemasonry, I have attended Schools of Instruction three times, I've been to Athens with W. Bro. B.S. to attend an officer's class, and I accepted this Lodge's appointment as Director of Masonic Education when my dear friend W. Bro. Dr. W.B. passed away. Just as Bro. W.B. did before me, I've stood before you many times to bring you an educational message in hopes of enlightening you about our great Fraternity.
In 2002, shortly after I was raised, I was asked by then Master of this Lodge Worshipful Master J.W. to build this Lodge a website. I did so, and that site has garnered awards and congratulatory comments from scores of Brothers from across not just the United States but from around the world.
Please don't think I'm telling you about my accomplishments to boast. I've only done what any good Mason should do — that is, to give of his time and talents to his Lodge and to the Fraternity at large, and to show his Brotherly Love by being a good Friend.
But I am telling you all this so that you understand my dedication to the Craft, and so you realize that I am not one of those 90% of Masons who is a Mason in name only — who never comes to a Lodge meeting, who only joined so he could wear a ring or because his father was a Mason. I became a Mason to serve, and to learn, and to find that elusive Light we only mention during the Rituals.
I have a deep interest in things spiritual and esoteric. Freemasonry promised to teach me that “Freemasonry is a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” The last time I tried to discuss symbols in this Lodge, several of you looked like you were asleep, and I was told afterward my lecture was much too long, even though I only used about one-third of the material that I had taken from a printed lecture intended for use in Lodges 100 years ago.
I also have what some might consider a personality flaw. I have a high need for internal consistency. Another word for “internal consistency” is “integrity.” That is, I believe that things should be what they say they are. For example, I “need” for police officers and government officials to be honest and not corrupt, I “need” for medical doctors to be wise and to have their patients' best interest at heart, and I “need” for religious leaders to be sincere and to follow their own religious teachings... and in the case of Freemasonry, I need for Masons to act as Masons.
Yes, I know, I don't always act as I should, either. I'm human. But I certainly do try.
Just as I expect government employees, doctors and religious leaders to be true to their stated world-view, I expect Masons to be true to theirs. I've read and re-read the rule books, the Masonic Code, the Masonic Book of Etiquette, the Worshipful Master's handbook, Mackey's Encyclopedia of Masonry, Wilmshurst's “The Meaning of Masonry” lectures, Albert Pike's “Morals and Dogma,” history books about Masonry, esoteric books about Masonry, and more. I've discovered that Freemasonry – even basic Blue Lodge Masonry – is much more than what usually goes on this Lodge.
And in my role of Director of Masonic Education, I've stood before you in this spot to tell you what I've learned.
Six months ago, during a simple lecture on the principles of Masonry as defined by the Grand Lodge of Georgia, I was shouted down when I mentioned Freemasonry's ban on religious sectarianism in the Lodge. By now, most of you have read or heard about the essay I wrote about that unsettling event. Quite simply, I stated that discussion of Jesus or prayers in his name, or mention of the Baptist world-view, in the Lodge Room is forbidden by Masonic law.
Pages 49 and 50 of the Grand Lodge of Georgia's Book of Masonic Etiquette say in no uncertain words:
Freemasonry is a fraternity. It is not a religion. Its member are presumed to be religious and it operates on the highest and best moral principles taught by all the great religions. But direct or even indirect reference to one's religious preference in a prayer, though inadvertently often done, or the display of a particular religious flag in the confines of a Masonic Lodge, are breaches of good manners and the spirit of Freemasonry, if not of the law itself.Brethren, it doesn't matter if everyone in the Lodge is a Christian — it is improper in a Masonic Lodge to discuss matters of sectarian religion. W. Bro. I.T. and others have stated that I was trying to control how others pray. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm simply acting in my role as Educational Director in pointing out the rules, as well as acting as a Master Mason in giving you all a Masonic nudge.
It would be immaterial if all present at the Lodge meeting were all of the same religion and sect, yet this would seem rare and unlikely.... These things are pointed out that we may avoid the violation, in spirit as well as in fact, of one of the most important tenets of Freemasonry.... Our practice seems to show that we are fully aware of the injunction with reference to politics; many do not appreciate fully how our inadvertences in prayer strike some other of our brethren....
For Masons in Lodge to indulge in or practice any form of religious sectarianism is to risk the destruction of the Craft as surely as would be the rule against the discussion of partisan politics in Lodge or participation in partisan politics by the Lodge itself.
It's been said, “but that's the way we do it,” and “every Lodge has its personality.”
“That's the way we do it” doesn't wash. If we're doing it against the rules, we should all be brought up on charges of un-Masonic conduct.
The excuse that “every Lodge has its personality” doesn't float, either. Freemasonry is Freemasonry, no matter where a Lodge is found. It follows Ancient Landmarks and customs and rules. The final Ancient Landmark of Freemasonry, after all the other Landmarks are listed, is this: “These rules cannot be changed.” A Georgia Mason should expect to find the same rules being applied and the same rituals and prayers being used, whether he visits [this lodge] or _____ Lodge No. ___ in _______. I've visited that lodge, by the way — they used the prayer printed in the Masonic Manual, the prayer addressed to the Great Architect of the Universe, as all true Masons when in Lodge assembled are instructed to.
I cannot emphasize this point too strongly, since my essay now known as “A Bucket of Rattlesnakes” — the true title was “The Christianization of Freemasonry” — is what has upset so many of you. It does not matter that many of you are devout Baptists — this is not a church. You may be a diehard Democrat or a diehard Republican, and go to meetings and rallies and chant your favorite candidate's name and try to get others to vote for him — but you're not supposed to do it here. And just because you pray to Jesus on Sundays and in your private moments, it doesn't mean you're supposed to do that here, either.
You know this is true. I brought this issue up to W. Bro. K.E. nearly two years ago. He agreed with me. He said, “Brother W.S., yes, you're absolutely right. That's what the rules say. But that's just the way I pray, and I'm not going to change."
Once again, I'm looking for internal consistency. For integrity. If you are going to vote me out of Freemasonry because you think I've violated some rule of Masonry, look first at yourselves, and see how many rules you may have broken.
If I understand correctly, it is charged that my rattlesnake essay “spoke ill of a brother Mason.” Brethren, I can not count the number of times I've heard many of you speak ill of a good Brother. I've seen innumerable breaches of rules and etiquette in this Lodge, much of it — most of it — by Past Masters. Should I bring charges for every infraction I have witnessed? It is my Masonic duty to do so, you know.
Let's turn our attention to another charge made against me, that of not obeying an order from the Worshipful Master.
To get to the bottom of this, we've got to go back to at least January 2005, when D.C., a now-expelled former Mason, once a member of this Lodge, pleaded guilty in criminal court to sexual exploitation of a minor, for having sex with a 16-year old girl. At that time, my only knowledge of D.C. was that he had previously been appointed Junior Deacon of this Lodge, and never showed up, and that in June of 2003, I was “promoted” from Senior Steward to Junior Deacon to fill his station. I'd never met him, nor his father, B.C. I hadn't even read of his plight in the local newspaper.
In February, this Lodge voted to bring charges of Gross Un-Masonic Conduct against D.C., because of his conviction in criminal court and the embarrassment his actions had caused the Lodge.
Masonic Code calls for the Junior Warden to be the officer that officially prefers the Masonic charges. After a vote similar to the one that has led me to stand before you tonight to defend myself, I was ordered by the Lodge to draw up charges against D.C. I did so, basing the Masonic charges on the wording of the criminal charges the government had written. The charges were read to the Lodge, the Lodge voted, and a few months later, a pre-trial conference was held in this Lodge, which most of you did not attend.
There was much discussion amongst members of this Lodge of giving D.C. a demit, of trying to “make it all go away.” In a private discussion with two Past Masters of this Lodge, I heard it said, “Oh, that's just the way ol' D. is.” Several of you over the last nine months have privately told me that you regret not blackballing D.C. when his petition was first read. Again, I emphasize that I did not know the C.'s, but I got the distinct impression that D.C. had been admitted to our Fraternity simply because he is B.C.'s son.
Though I cannot recall his presence in this Lodge for a Regular Communication even once in the time I've been a Freemason, I have seen recently the power that B.C. seems to have over some of you. He seemed to really be enjoying himself as he sat in our meeting a month ago, while Worshipful Brother B.G. discussed pressing charges against me. Was it just a coincidence that D.C.'s first and only appearance in a regular meeting in at least three years was that particular evening? You decide.
One Brother said to me recently, “Brother W.S., I'm sorry this is happening. But this is what happens when you step on the toes of the Big Dogs.” Yes, he was right... but I thought there weren't supposed to Big Dogs and Little Dogs here, that we were all equals.
Following my understanding of the Masonic Code, after this Lodge brought charges, I posted the fact that D.C. had been charged on the Lodge website.
A few weeks later, I received a frantic phone call from a Past Master of this Lodge, demanding that I remove information from the website. I removed the name of D.C.'s victim, though her name was a part of the public record, because at the time, that's all the upset Brother seemed to be worried about.
A few hours later, he called back and demanded I remove all of the information. I refused.
I immediately called our Lodge's Worshipful Master Brother W.B., and he and I and later Senior Warden E.J. met to discuss the matter. According to the Grand Lodge's rules, information on a Lodge website is under the direction of the Worshipful Master and the webmaster, not a committee, not the Lodge as a whole, and certainly not a Past Master. Brothers W.B., E.J. and I met and decided, however, that we would discuss the issue in front of the Lodge, and ask the Lodge to vote on the question of whether the information about charges being brought should be posted or removed from the website before the trial was held.
When I arrived for the next evening's Lodge meeting, I was immediately requested to go into the Preparation Room with three Past Masters, already dressed in their aprons. Standing before me was probably 100 years' worth of Masonic experience — I was duly impressed, and a bit intimidated, for here were men whom at the time I respected.
I was told — not asked — three times to remove the information from the website. I refused, and told them that the duly elected officers of the Lodge — Brothers W.B., E.J., and myself — had discussed it and were going to put it to a Lodge vote. A lot was said about how they didn't want me to be embarrassed at losing a vote, and they didn't want to embarrass B.C. I told them his son had already done that.
Early on Saturday morning, June 18 of this year, a pre-trial conference about the charges against D.C. was held in this room, with very few brothers in attendance. Through some misunderstanding, the Ninth District did not send a prosecuting attorney, so at the last moment, it was demanded of me, as the Lodge's Junior Warden, to act as prosecutor, though I had only attended this hearing as an interested observer.
D.C. pleaded guilty to the charges, and only then did his attorneys rise to speak on his behalf. You can read my account of what they had to say elsewhere; I'll not go into it, other than to say that one of their “defenses” was that in Georgia, it was once legal to screw 14-year old girls, and that only time had made what was once legal now illegal, and that it was the 16-year old's fault, not C.'s, that he had gotten into trouble.
D.C. himself then rose and faced the brethren who had attended. With tears on his face he said “I'm sorry” a few times, once that he had brought shame on the Lodge, once that he was sorry that he had embarrassed his father.
The Trial Commission excused themselves to deliberate, and quickly returned and pronounced the sentence of expulsion on D.C.
After the session broke up, I began moving chairs we had used in the proceeding back into the dining hall. As I turned around, B.C. was standing in my face. He growled at me, “I hope you're happy.” It was obvious that he believed I had some personal motivation in all this. I did not, at that time, have any personal feelings in this at all.
But believe me — I do now.
As I broke away from B.C.'s angry words, the Trial Commissioner took me aside and said, “I saw what happened. That was very un-Masonic conduct on his part. You could file charges against him.”
I shrugged and continued carrying chairs.
Ten or fifteen minutes later, I had moved all the tables and chairs back to the dining hall, and had cleaned up the area, washed out the coffeepots, and was ready to go home. I sat in the anteroom talking with Worshipful Brother W.B. for a few moments. When we went outside, Worshipful Brother G.J., Brother E.J., the non-Masonic attorney G.W., and the C.'s, were standing around. Immediately, D.C. began shouting at me, and trying to make his way through Brothers G.J. and E.J. to get at me. He threatened me with bodily harm several times, with legal action, called me several names, and screamed that I wasn't worthy to be a pimple on his father's ass. I am grateful that Brothers G.J. And E.J. were standing between us.
Finally, B.C. literally dragged his son away, shouting at him, “You promised you wouldn't do this, you promised you wouldn't do this.” Again, this showed that both of them think I had a personal interest in this matter.
I went home and documented on paper what had just happened. And since I had just heard the Masonic Trial Judge proclaim D.C.'s expulsion — I put that information on our Lodge's website.
I also telephoned a Brother not present — an influential man who knows everyone involved — to ask his suggestions and opinions. I asked him, “Should I be afraid of D.C.? Is he truly a violent person? Should I file criminal charges of assault and terroristic threats? Should I bring Masonic charges against B.C.?” His answer shocked me. He said, referring to himself, “I wouldn't wanna get tangled up in that crowd!” Believe me, I didn't sleep well that night, and locked my doors for the first time since I'd moved to _____, seven years ago. I also loaded my weapons; I didn't know what I had stumbled into. The C.'s needed someone to blame for their own problems — and they apparently had set their sights on me.
I won't spend any more time talking about D.C. I don't believe he's worth discussing any further. I simply put the information about his Masonic conviction for Gross Un-Masonic Conduct on the Lodge's website to follow Masonic Code section number 77-142, which says:
Public announcement of the conviction of a Mason is not un-Masonic conduct, especially when the commission of the offense was well known to the community and tended to discredit the Craft. Publicity of such results may be effective of good.Almost immediately, Brother G.J. emailed me asking me to remove the information, saying the Trial Commission had given D.C. 30 days in which to appeal. I complied, removing the information once again. After 30 days, I put it back online. Again, Brother G.J. asked me to remove it, this time saying he thought, and I emphasize that he said he was not sure, that D.C. wasn't “really” expelled until the Grand Lodge met in October. But again, following his request, I removed it.
Then, back in September, before Grand Lodge met, Bro. D.J., the Mason who had been appointed as D.C.'s Masonic attorney, attended our Lodge as a visitor. I should point out that in his role as Ninth District Trial Defense Commissioner, Bro. D.J. will most likely be appointed as my Masonic attorney should you vote to bring charges against me when I'm finished speaking here tonight. I spoke with Bro. D.J., and he informed me that indeed, D.C. was already expelled. No further action was needed by the Grand Lodge, according to him.
With that assurance from someone who should know, I once again put the information about D.C.'s conviction on the website, acting in my role as webmaster, and as a Mason doing his duty according to Code section number 77-142.
In everything I've done regarding this whole D.C. situation, until recently, I've acted with honor and in a Masonic manner, trying to do my duty to the Brotherhood and this Lodge.
On the day the Grand Master visited us, I started acting human. Because I have an ego. Because I have feelings. And because I felt hurt, extremely hurt, by members of this Lodge. If feeling hurt, and acting human, is what you want to bring charges against me for — then go ahead.
I have no way to prove this — and there is the possibility, though extremely low — that I am wrong. But this is how I interpreted certain events that happened after the Grand Master left our Lodge on Sept 27, 2005.
As the Lodge Room was clearing of our guests, we all stood around chatting. It was late, but we had more business to attend to in private session. Voting was scheduled on a petition for joining our Lodge, and as that petitioner is a friend of mine, I was eager to stay and participate in the vote.
Still dressed in my officer's regalia, I left the at-ease Lodge room for a quick trip to the restroom. As I passed the Tyler, I jokingly said, “Don't let 'em start without me.” He laughed, and mumbled okay.
Not 45 seconds later, I came out of the restroom only to see that the door had been closed, and the Tyler B.S. would not let me pass. I said, “I asked you to not let them start.” The Tyler B.S. laughed and said, “I'm just the lowly Tyler.” Dozens of times I've seen the Master ask the Tyler to request Brothers who are not in the Lodge Room to come in, giving them ample time before the door is sealed.
Oddly, that didn't happen this time, though more than one brother knew I was still on the premises, and intended to be in the Lodge Room.
I chose to go home. I was tired.
An hour later, I received a phone call from the Junior Steward, Brother F.A., telling me that he was calling to relay a message from the Acting Master of the Lodge B.G. that night, demanding that I remove the D.C. information once again from the website, as well as links to what was called a “Red Lodge.”
I had no idea what links were being referred to, and I was miffed that an order of such apparent importance was being relayed through the junior-most officer in the Lodge. If it was so important, and had to be done right away, why didn't the acting Master, or the regular Master, or another Senior officer, call me?
And while we're talking about acting Masters, I'd like to point out that according to Code section 23-103, it appears that if the sitting Master of our Lodge chose not to preside over the Lodge, then the Senior Warden or Junior Warden should have been acting as Master that night. That a Past Master who is a member of the Grand Lodge had officiated during the open meeting in which the Grand Master was present was a matter of courtesy, and under this Code section, he should have returned the gavel to our Lodge's elected Worshipful Master or one of the Wardens before the business meeting was called back on. This particular code section is so important that it is actually considered one of the original Landmarks of Freemasonry.
I later heard that the acting Master appeared to have had the door sealed immediately after I went out to the restroom. I later heard that as soon as the door was shut, the discussion immediately turned to me and the website, and once a vote was taken to demand that I make changes to the website, and a committee to oversee the website was discussed, only then was it acknowledged that I might still be on the premises, and someone sent to find me.
As I said, this is partly speculation, backed up by confidential sources from inside the Lodge Room, but it is what I believed at the time, and still believe. I believe there was a planned attempt at discussing the matter without me being present, that my being locked out was orchestrated. If that is true, then all who participated in such a conspiracy are guilty of extremely un-Masonic conduct.
I could be wrong. I'm human. But I felt mistreated. I felt that certain people within our Lodge had some unknown-to-me relationships that made placating B.C. more important than letting me do my Masonic duty in publicizing the facts as directed by Code section number 77-142. More than once someone has claimed that publicizing the fact that D.C. has been convicted of a sex crime against a minor is “airing the Lodge's dirty laundry.”
Under orders to remove the information and links from the website, I did what most people would do who were angry — I over-reacted. I said to myself, “Screw this!” and I took down the entire website. I had created, designed, maintained and paid for it... yes, my ego took over, my feelings were hurt, and I responded in a less than perfect manner. Would you have done any differently?
I justified my actions by telling myself that by taking down the site I was technically obeying the order. The information was no longer there.
A few hours later I realized that hundreds of Brother Masons across the world regularly enjoyed reading the Lodge website, and that I should perhaps tell them why it had been taken down. That's why I created the blog “The Burning Taper,” to tell of how I had been locked out by my Lodge, how I had been violently threatened by an expelled Mason, and how I had been verbally abused by members of this Lodge months before, when I gave the lecture on Grand Lodge rules about speaking of Jesus in open Lodge. Yes, I was feeling low, feeling betrayed by this Lodge, and perhaps I didn't act with proper restraint.
But nothing I said, or did, or wrote, was illegal or un-Masonic. Your charges say I “spoke ill” of a Master Mason. Reporting that you didn't act in a civil manner when I spoke about the rules against discussion of sectarian religion in this Lodge is not speaking ill of you — it's simply a fact. In the face of a fact — a rule from our Code – you guys went crazy, which is what led someone who witnessed what happened that night to say I had kicked over a bucket of rattlesnakes.
Links on the Lodge website to a “Red Lodge” have been mentioned in your accusations. I wonder if most of you know what a Red Lodge is. There's nothing evil, or un-Masonic, and certainly not “clandestine” about it. Lodges in Louisiana practice Red Lodge Masonry, as do some Lodges in several other states. Red Lodge Masonry simply hearkens back to France, not England, which is where Blue Lodge Masonry comes from. Several south Georgia Lodges in the 1800's practiced Red Lodge rituals. It's no big deal; it's just not as common as Blue Lodge Masonry.
W. Bro. B.G., a member of the Grand Lodge of Georgia and of this Lodge, and the man behind these charges against me, is most likely thinking of the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold when he talks about Red Lodges. Since it is he, not me, who has brought up this subject, I want to simply tell you this, no matter what rumor you may have heard to the contrary: the Brethren of the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold are honorable men, are Master Masons made in regular Lodges, and are simply wanting to practice Masonry in a manner that is historical, ethical, interesting, and certainly not clandestine. They do not make Masons, and they do not confer the Three Degrees; they are simply an appendant body of Freemasons, having as much right to exist as the Scottish Rite or the York Rite. Their organization simply has not been recognized by the Grand Lodge of Georgia. By definition, only a Lodge — not an appendant body — can even be called clandestine. That was settled way back in 1935, according to the Masonic Service Association.
Think about your obligation. It talks about clandestine Lodges and those made in such a Lodge. It doesn't say anything about appendant bodies. Rites and other appendant bodies don't make Masons; they instruct them.
Simply calling something clandestine doesn't make it clandestine any more than calling an apple an orange makes an apple an orange; not even the Grand Lodge has the authority to change a Landmark, or a definition. See Code section numbers 1-201 and 71-101 regarding the Grand Lodge's inability to change a Landmark or definition, and see Code section number 23-132 for the Grand Lodge of Georgia's own correct definition of “clandestine.” Code section 1-202 further says that the Grand Lodge is charged with preserving the traditions of Freemasonry. There is no historical or traditional basis for calling a group of regular Masons clandestine.
Ironically, and fittingly, I want to thank Brother B.G. for telling me about the Brethren in the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold. I had never heard of it, or anyone involved with it, until one day in 2003, when Brother B.G. said to me, “Do you know J.P.?” I said no, I don't. Bro. B.G. replied, “You stay away from him. He's a troublemaker.” Those words about a Mason that I didn't even know are mighty close to “speaking ill of a Brother Master Mason,” but who was I to challenge a member of the Grand Lodge, even though it sounded like slander to me, which, by the way, is a violation of Code section number 77-110.
I am, however, a naturally curious sort, and it should come as no surprise that eventually Bro. J.P. and I met each other. We have become friends, and I have found him to be a decent and conscientious Mason whom I am proud to call Brother. I have since met or communicated with many other so-called clandestine members of the RRCG, and have found them to be honorable and true Masonic brothers as well.
Talking about Red Lodges is really off the topic, but since it's mentioned in your charges against me, I thought you should know the truth about the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold. Please don't just take my word for it, though. Check them out. For more information, go online to rrcg.org.
In closing, let me very quickly touch upon five points.
First, thank you for allowing me to speak my mind. This is probably the last time I will stand before you to speak. You've indicated that my educational lectures are either too long, too esoteric, or just too controversial.
Second, I want to say this. I love most of you as Masonic brothers, and will strive to uphold my obligations to you. A few of you, however, I just no longer trust, and I prefer not to associate with you.
Third — The charges against me are frivolous. They are inspired out of a need for power and retaliation from some of you. Those bringing these charges are acting no better than I did when I was angry and hurt.
Fourth — The charges, if you choose to bring them against me, will be fought, both within Freemasonry and in the criminal and civil courts if necessary. And the charges will be met with charges of my own against Brothers in this Lodge and elsewhere. The charges may not stick, and they may not even be accepted by the Lodge. But they will be well publicized both within Masonry and in the public arena. These charges came about because you didn't want to air the Lodge's dirty laundry. Do you want the airing of this dirty laundry as well?
Fifth — I don't want to go through this, and I don't want to put the Lodge through this. I do not want to bring charges against anyone. I prefer to walk away, with my Masonic status intact. Obviously I do not belong in this Lodge; one Brother has even gone out of his way to let people know that I don't fit in here because I “read too much.” No, I don't fit in at _______ Lodge No. ___, but I certainly do belong in Freemasonry, and I will fight to maintain my status as a Master Mason. I am asking for a Letter of Good Standing. So far, you have denied me that, based on a rule you found in the Code saying an appointed officer could resign and receive a Letter of Good Standing, but an elected one like me can't. Fine — I'm all for obeying the Code. But if you obey part of it, why do you not obey all of it?
I have done nothing wrong, nothing criminal, and to my mind, nothing un-Masonic. In our Entered Apprentice degree, someone always speaks of forgiveness, of not casting the first stone. I am not without sin, but neither are any of you. I did not cast the first stone. But I must assure you, my Brothers, that I will cast stones back if you choose to bring these frivolous charges against me. Everything “un-Masonic” I have ever heard or seen will be exposed. After all, it's my Masonic duty, too, just as some of you think it is yours to press these charges against me.
Thank you for your time and attention, my Brothers. It has been my honor and privilege to sit with you in Lodge, and to serve you as your webmaster, as your Director of Masonic Education, as your Steward, as your Junior and Senior Deacon, as your Junior Warden, as your Acting Senior Warden and on two occasions, as your Acting Worshipful Master. It has been my honor to call you Friend, and to call you Brother. I am sorry that you think I have done you wrong, and I wish that I didn't believe that some of you have done me wrong.
Oh, one last thing, another rule from the Code book, this time Code section number 29-101. It simply says, “Every member present must vote on every question before the Lodge, unless he be personally interested therein or be excused by the Worshipful Master.” If you want me out of Freemasonry, if you want charges brought against me, then raise your hand when the vote is called. If you don't want me and this Lodge to go through this, then raise your hand to say no. But please, don't just sit there like so many of you do when a vote is taken and not commit to something. We're Masons. Let's act like it.
[Give the grand hailing sign of distress, accompanied by the words — to the East, again to the West, and again to the South.]
Drawing of religious zealots attacking young man by Al
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