Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gov't posts Fact Sheet on World Trade Center collapse, hopes to quieten conspiracy theorists

The U.S. government's National Institute of Standards and Technology yesterday released its "fact sheet" on the collapse of the World Trade Center twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

The fact sheet provides the government's official answers to the conspiracy theorists who say that the government was involved in the attacks that killed 3,000 people.

Surveys have indicated that as many as one-third of American adults believe that the government has not been forthcoming about the truth of what happened that day.

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Masonic genocide?

Since we've been on the topic of race and Freemasonry all week, why stop now?

Cassandra Frost, the reporter who has been investigating alleged improprieties in finances of Shrine organizations, is of Native American descent. In a blog article from last month, she wrote about the attitudes of certain founding fathers towards the American Indians. Those forefathers were Freemasons.

I'm glad I haven't had lunch yet. As I read this, I felt slightly sick to my stomach.

Sandy wrote:
Masonic Genocide?

The other day, out of curiosity, I googled around to find what historical Masonic leaders had to say about Native Americans.

Or as one church site said:

“A historical report was then given of the continual breaking of treaties and promises as an operational mode of the establishment of the United States by the non-first nations cultures that immigrated to this land. The systematic genocide of the Native People's under Masonic expansionist manifest destiny, a philosophy derived from the Crusades mentality, was openly exposed.”

Here is what some of the Masonic leaders had to say about us:

George Washington, Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4, Fredericksburg, Virginia; Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22

Indians were defined as subhumans, lower than animals. George Washington compared them to wolves, “beasts of prey” and called for their total destruction. George Washington's troops skinned Native Americans like animals. Apparently his first agenda item as President was the exermination of the Native Americans.

President James Monroe: Williamsburg Lodge No. 6, Williamsburg, Virginia

During Monroe's administration, the United States acquired Florida from Spain, and U.S. troops fought against the Seminole Native Americans there.

Andrew Jackson: Harmony Lodge No. 1, Nashville, Tennessee; Grand Master 1822-23, Tennessee

Andrew Jackson — in 1814: “supervised the mutilation of 800 or more Creek Indian corpses — the bodies of men, women and children that [his troops] had massacred — cutting off their noses to count and preserve a record of the dead, slicing long strips of flesh from their bodies to tan and turn into bridle reins.” Jackson was also responsible for the Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears.

In 1867, General William Tecumseh Sherman, a Mason, said: “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the [Lakotas, known to whites as the Sioux] even to their extermination, men, women and children.”

In 1891, Frank L. Baum (author of The Wizard Of Oz and Mason) wrote in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer (Kansas) that the army should “finish the job” by the “total annihilation” of the few remaining Indians.

I’m not interested in doing much more research into this topic right now.

I think these statements speak for themselves.

Are the Masons responsible for the genocide of Native Americans?

Or did any of them try to stop it?

Apparently not.

— Sandy Frost
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Anonymous poster calls United Grand Lodge of America 'Klan-destine'

In an unexpected and humorous twist to the ongoing saga of Antient Masonic racism, the formation of the United Grand Lodge of America, and the general state of discord within Freemasonry, an anonymous poster has surfaced recently on Burning Taper sowing his own seeds of Discord.

In his latest comment, we're warned that the "Joseph A. Walkes Jr. Commission on Bogus Masonic Practices under the banner of the Phylaxis Society" is watching.

Apparently certain elements of Prince Hall Masonry aren't happy with the UGLA. The Commission has labeled the UGLA as "bogus." Sidestepping the word clandestine (which white Antient Masons have used for centuries to mean, mostly, "the black lodges," or so I was told when I was raised), the Commission says that bogus means "fraudulent."

How can members of the United Grand Lodge of American be fraudulent Masons, when they were all raised in regular, recognized Blue Lodges under the jurisdictions of their respective Grand Lodges?

Joseph A. Walkes, for whom the Commission is named, apparently wrote a great deal about "bogus Freemasonry," something that evidently has been rampant in black culture. His article “Bogus Black Groups or Black on Black Crime” stated, "Unfortunately the leadership of both Prince Hall Freemasonry and its Caucasian counterparts have little or no knowledge of Masonic common law, and exactly what Freemasonry is all about, and they continue to make dumb and dumber statements on the subject of bogus frauds operating within the Black community, such as calling them 'non-Prince Hall Masons.'"

On their website, they write:
10 STUPID justifications plus a BONUS given by Bogus Masons as to why they should be recognized

Misguided bogus Masons say:
  1. We read the same rituals
  2. We take the same degree
  3. We practice the same Masonry
  4. We have the same regalia
  5. We give the same grips, signs and words
  6. We confer the same degrees
  7. We take the same obligations
  8. We Black Masons should stick together
  9. We believe in God
  10. We belong to the same church
  11. BONUS) He’s my Frat Brother (Greek)
It's my understanding that UGLA members are regular Masons, and not concerned with "recognition" as practiced by Antient Masons, either white or Prince Hall. Perhaps some of their members can comment on this apparent animosity from this black organization.

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Russ and Dee continue today on Freemasonry topic

Discussions of Masonic racism in Alabama, Gov. Riley, and the United Grand Lodge of America continue this morning on the Russ and Dee Show.

Anti-Masons are now calling in, pushing the Satanic angle because the Order of the Eastern Star's upside-down star, and they're reading emails from people directing them to anti-Masonic websites like Freemasonry Watch.

The show pretty much deteriorated into Alabama Masons calling in to deny that they are racists, while not being able to explain why the Grand Lodge hasn't officially removed the anti-Negro resolutions from its records. Several fundamentalist Christians called in to further decry Masonry as "occult."

Hitler, Stalin were possessed by Devil, Vatican's chief exorcist claims

No sooner do I get through with the post about the Vatican rewriting history to deny that Mozart was a Mason than another Catholic comedy demands attention.

Adolf Hitler and Russian leader Stalin were possessed by the Devil, the Vatican's chief exorcist has claimed.

Father Gabriele Amorth, the official "Exorcist to the Pope," made his comments during an interview with Vatican Radio. previously wrote about the Vatican's Demon Buster in March.

Father Amorth said: "Of course the Devil exists and he can not only possess a single person but also groups and entire populations.

"I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler — and Stalin did. Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil.

"You can tell by their behaviour and their actions, from the horrors they committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That's why we need to defend society from demons."

Recently released secret Vatican documents show that during World War II, Pope Pius XII attempted a long-distance exoricism of Hitler and other Nazis.

Read more at the Daily Mail.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mozart was never a Freemason, Catholic Church says

The Catholic Church, famous for heretic barbeques and pervert priests, is once again trying to rewrite history.

It seems that the music of Mozart is Pope Benedict's favorite.

"His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence," the Pope said in a 1996 interview.

While head of the Holy Inquisition several years ago, before becoming Pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that Mozart "thoroughly penetrated" his soul as he was growing up in the 1920s and ’30s in rural Bavaria, near Salzburg, Austria, Mozart’s birthplace.

On most days, Benedict sits down at the keyboard and plays a bit of Mozart.

That's all very heartwarming, you say. But...

Mozart was a Freemason.
Oh, no!

While head of the Inquisition (officially, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which changed its name from The Holy Inquisition about a hundred years ago), the Pope wrote that "Faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion."

The Catholic Church still officially forbids Catholics from becoming Freemasons.

So... they have launched a P.R. spin campaign to proclaim that Mozart was never a Freemason.

Despite the fact that documentation of Mozart's initiation into an Austrian lodge exists, the Church has sent forth Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria to say that reports of Mozart's Masonic membership "are without foundation."

To which I reply: "Reports of the Pope's infallability are, without a doubt, without foundation."

Read the story from the National Catholic Reporter.

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Alabama governor 'outed' as racist Freemason

Live, at this moment (7 am - 11 am ET), the Russ and Dee Show radio show on 101.1 FM, "the Voice of Alabama," has "outed" governor Bob Riley for being a Freemason. They read the 1876 Grand Lodge Masonic Resolution (below) supporting racism and keeping Freemasonry all white.

Go here and then click in the upper right to listen to their stream.

Dee repeatedly has called for Gov. Riley to resign from the racist lodges of Alabama and, if he wants to be governor of all the people, not just whites, he should join the alternative, non-racist United Grand Lodge of America.

Russ and Dee supported Riley's losing opponent in the primary, and have gleefully jumped on the "Riley is a racist Mason" bandwagon.

I didn't hear about this show until well after it started this morning, and so I've heard only the last hour and a half or so. During that time, I heard at least two members of the United Grand Lodge of America call in and make very poignant points about the real purpose of Freemasonry. This tended to subdue Dee (who pretty much ran the show... we didn't hear from Russ much) a bit, with her congratulating the UGLA callers and saying they were the "hope for the future."

Several Antient Masons called in as well, defending their racism. The final caller, a proud southern Illinois redneck who sounded like he had a wad of terbacky in his mouth, defended Antient Masonry by saying that only "clandestine" Masons, which he defined as not having been chartered, are disallowed, and that there have been no qualified black applicants. He also tried to say that Masons were only following rules set down by the "founder" of Freemasonry, King Solomon (later he referred to King Solomon as "King James"), when they disallowed blacks in their lodges. He proudly boasted he was a "32nd degree Mason."

In 1876, the Alabama Grand Lodge passed the following resolution, "as to Negro Masons."

When Dee read a few passages of it to the final caller, he said, "Oh, it says that?", and all the wind went out of his sails.

From the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Alabama 1876
Page 23 & 24

“As to Negro Masons”

“Whereas, the question of the recognition of Negro Masons has been made more than usually prominent during the last year; and whereas this Grand Lodge has a well-settled opinion upon this subject, which she desires most respectfully and fraternally to express to her sister Grand Lodges everywhere, and especially to those of the United States; she deems the present a fit opportunity to set forth the reasons which impel her to that opinion.

1. It is indisputable that whatever theory we adopt as to the origin of Masonry- whether that which carries it back to the original Father of mankind, and his immediate descendents;, or to Enoch and Noah; or to the building of King Solomon’s Temple; or arising from the constitutions of Pythagoras; or if we trace it back to the Eleusinain Mysteries; or to those of Ceres, and the institution of the Bacchanalia; or, what is most probable of all, the incorporation of the Roman builders under Numa Pompilius that theory carries us back to the Caucasian Race.

2. Masonry was originally, what it is mainly today, a social institution; intended for those who daily mingled in the ordinary walks of life, in business, in pleasure, and in the family circle; into which it is not credible that anyone of the Negro or any other of the inferior races, could have been admitted.

3. That Negroes have of late years been admitted into Lodges of Free Masons is due, it is believed, to the sympathy which has been excited for them by anti-slavery societies generally, and particularly by those of the United States; and that any were admitted during the revolutionary war by traveling Lodges belonging to the British Army, was due to the feeling which existed at that time against American patriots; a proceeding entirely at variance with the object of the formation of such Lodges, they having no right to confer the degrees upon any citizen or resident of the county in which they might be sojourning, but only upon members of the army to which such Lodges belonged.

4. Although it is usually said that Masonry is universal, and that in every clime Masons are to be found; yet it is only universal in so far as the Caucasian Race has carried it into every quarter of the globe; and if that race has sometimes admitted Negroes, and others of the inferior races, it has done so in violation of the original and fundamental laws of the Fraternity.

5. In view, therefore, of these facts, indisputable as they are conceived to be, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama seizes the present as a fit and proper occasion, to declare its purpose, under no circumstances whatever acknowledge the legality of Negro-masons, such acknowledgement being foreign to the original purpose of the Fraternity, and introducing an element of demoralization into the society.”

Resolution passed

For more information, see Alabama Grand Lodge Facts.

Image: Grand Master Frank W. Little with Brother Bob Riley at the Clay County Courthouse cornerstone removal ceremony in Ashland, AL on Aug 12, 2006.

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Never let it be said you were silent

The following essay by Bro. Darren Simpson first appeared earlier today on his blog Le Chevalier Maconnique. Editor's notes in the text appear in the original.

The Words & Thoughts of a Freemason by Bro. Darren Simpson

As I peruse the different blogs and review articles about Freemasonry, I can't help but feel that this is a truly auspicious and revolutionary time in history. Freemasonry is undergoing a complete metamorphosis that is happening so quickly, you'd think the ancient guardian spirits of our forefathers were reaching out from beyond and placing the spark of the future into our very hands.

Much has happened in the last three years that has made Freemasonry a household word again. Some good... some not so good, and a good bit of genuine evil has come to light. We see that the younger generation of Freemasons are carrying forth the sword of truth and are taking back the East from the usurpers of that sacred chair. The pretenders and their followers are being exposed for what they are and people are discovering that the "Moderns" of today are really just following the ancient paths and ways that were discarded by the so-called "Antients."

The rituals and morals that seemed detached and foreign in the post 1920's ritual of the Blue Lodge, regain their meaning and relevance when expounded in the original context of the original ceremony. (*This is the ritual resurrected by groups like the RRCG and the UGLA from the old French form... Ed.) Our history that is our birthright as Freemasons is being given back to us by brothers that have fought the good fight and are "taking back the streets" from those who would hoard the truths of our craft and hide their light under a bushel.

Most importantly, many Blue Lodge Freemasons are realizing that they HAVE BEEN LIED TO by those whom they have chosen to lead them. Their Grand Lodges are far from the superlative used to describe them. They see the halls swathed in gleaming purple and grandiose displays of pomposity and revelry, while the lights grow dim in their own home lodges. The Great Land Grab is going on as valleys and districts are liquidated to support the greed of the GL's. The coffers of some states are diminishing at an alarming rate, while some Masonic leaders look the other way and reap the fruits of others' misfortune and sorrow. They are as dead men sucking their own blood!

Some of you may ask, "Where is this supposed to be happening? I've never heard of this going on; nor have I seen it at my lodge! This must all be the result of a few disgruntled, expelled masons making trouble...." My answer to you would be to dig deeply into what is going on in your own backyard! Much of what I speak of has been primarily in the south and in some localized mid-west areas, but IT IS NOT LIMITED TO JUST THESE DISTRICTS!

Greed, like a virus, has a way of spreading.

Now, the public is finding out the mis-steps and scandals that have been occurring in some Masonic districts. Local and state-level news agencies have been picking up the scandalous dealings and rampant racism in Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia. The IRS is finding unbelievable discrepancies and accounting "problems" on the part of the Shriner's Children Charities. Next, we will see national news agencies taking notice of the growing ruckus in Masonry. Will YOUR lodge or Grand Lodge be on CNN or FOX? How many of your friends who are not Freemasons but know that you are, will start treating you differently? Remember the Morgan affair? One act almost destroyed the fraternity in America.

The naysayers like Ed King and his ilk keep saying that all this is nonsense and completely untrue. They keep reciting the party line that all is well and the fraternity is perfect and without blemish. People like Ed King say what they say because they live far away from the epicenter of the calamity (*Ed lives in Maine... Ed.) and are isolated from the repercussions of the conflict as well as the cause of the concern. It's easy for folks like that to listen to what they are told and publish a half-baked, half-assed, response from their ivory tower and purport it to be the "end-all", authoritative and "final word" on the matter. (*Kind of like Mel Gibson's father who denies the Holocaust ever happened... He's another detached, armchair theorist.... Ed.)

Hmmmm... Far be it for me to dare to disagree. How could I dare to compare wits with these self-proclaimed "experts" on all things masonic? I'm just a young, third generation Freemason. What do I know?

If you'll look at my profile, you'll see that I can probably speak with first-hand clarity about what is going on. I am no lackey for people with big, fancy, grandiose-sounding titles. I am simply a Freemason. Just a simple Freemason. I claim no secret knowledge or insight, nor do I clammer for recognition or title. I am just a Freemason. But as a Freemason, I believe that my words and thoughts, just as the words and thoughts of other Freemasons, are just as valid, important, and enlightened as any that have been spoken by our masonic ancestors. They carry all of the weight of any honorable man. They carry the authority of presidents, heads of state, and truly free-thinking philosophers and thinkers from time immemorial. The words and thoughts of any Freemason are the life of the Craft.

Those that use their position to subjugate the free-wills of honorable brothers are the enemies of Freemasonry. Just as much as the fundamentalist, anti-masonic lot and the conspiracy theorists; these title-hoarding, egotists are destroying Freemasonry to serve their own devices. They have introduced new "morals" into the ancient dogma that are at once recognisable as "peculiar" and "foreign." The new morals of deceit, avarice, greed, and despotism have replaced the time honored morals and dogma that formed the basis of our brotherhood. Somewhere along the way, we have allowed debased men to indulge their darker natures and they have become engorged with the fruits of their iniquities. Grotesque and distorted have their natures become. Nowhere is the Light to be found in them.

The defeat of the darkness that has permeated our brotherhood is carried in those very "words and thoughts" that I spoke of before. All Freemasons are knights of the truth. Their words are the swords of righteous anger and their thoughts are the armor of conscience and intellect. LET NO MAN CAUSE YOU TO BE SILENT! If you truly love the Craft, then take these words to heart, and take your heart to task. SPEAK!!! Rage against those who would silence you and soothe your protests with softly spoken lies and false sympathies. Tear down that wall of deceit that has been placed between you and your rightful inheritance of the Great Light of Freemasonry. Let it blind those pretenders who sit on the throne of the sacred East! Rebuild the temple whose foundation is in your hearts so that the world may one day see true Master Masons of the lost word as men of great stature and renown. Be as wise as serpents and as attentive as the Amesha Spentas (holy immortals). BUT NEVER... NEVER LET IT BE SAID THAT YOU WERE "SILENT."


Darren Simpson

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Monday, August 28, 2006

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish Frys

Masonic Magazine issue #4 has just been published. Stephen Dafoe's editorial called "The Restaurant at the End of the Masonic Universe" packs a punch that may send Freemasonry plummeting into a blazing star like one of Disaster Area's robot ships during a concert.

(Don't worry if you don't grok the Douglas Adams references. Many people over, say, age 65, won't.)

Bro. Dafoe takes the time-worn Masonic slogan "We make good men better," and, by analogy to a restaurant that promises to "make good food better," shows that what Freemasonry has been dishing up is, generally speaking, unpalatable and undigestible.
...The restaurant chain seldom lives up to its own slogan. The restaurants are often poorly decorated — their tables and chairs wobbly and in need of repair. Staff often quarrel with one another and the management, too often, seem only to be concerned with climbing the corporate ladder to the head office. The food, so much talked about is bland at best and dreadful at worst.

Yet as each new patron comes in for the first time to sample this "good food made better" he sees a group of smiling faces, all lapping up the meal as if it was the greatest food on the planet — just like the advertising people said it was.
As one newcomer after another visits the restaurant, only to be served the same pablum from the same dozen smiling faces who are happily lapping it up, the restaurant becomes less and less appetizing to everyone else.
He wonders how it is that the restaurant survives and why the same dozen diners seem to enjoy the food so much.

His conclusion is a simple one — they like things the way they are and the establishment will never change so long as the chain is run by people who like to make bland food and patronized by people who like to eat the same.
In a nutshell, that's where Freemasonry in the U.S. and Canada is today. Bland. Boring. Offering nothing for a young man to sink his teeth in. It remains tasty only to a few old men who have forgotten what it's like to truly partake of real sustenance.

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Patriotic Freemason rants against 'liberal Democrats, the ACLU, atheists, queers and foreigners'

Back in the spring of 2004, when I was still extremely active in my Blue Lodge, I proposed that we purchase and install a flagpole outside the lodge building, where we could fly the American flag and the Masonic flag.

A few months later, the pole was installed, flags were purchased, and a Flag Pole Dedication ceremony was held. I had suggested we use a Flag Pole Dedication ceremony that a then-living but fading fast Past Master and dear friend had written back in the early 1990s, which had been used when his former lodge had installed a flagpole. I hoped that our blue lodge officers (including me — I was then Senior Deacon) would conduct the ceremony.

I was outvoted. Our officers, of course, didn't want to have to actually conduct a ceremony they were not familiar with, and the power brokers within our lodge wanted the "prestige" of this event to fall to the Grand Lodge, and so they asked the Georgia Grand Lodge officers to conduct the ceremony.

(The added delay while the Grand Lodge found a last-minute suitable date in their schedule, late in the summer, meant that my elderly, sick Past Master friend who had so wanted to see this event happen, died before it occurred.)

The small and dignified ceremony I had originally envisioned turned into a typical Masonic circus, with Grand Lodge officers with their "ladies" in tow, Eastern Star women cooking a big meal, a DAV 21-gun salute, and a singer from the local high school belting out the National Anthem.

And of course, the Grand Lodge officers muddled through the ceremony, reading from a script. Even though it wasn't what I had originally forseen, I enjoyed it immensely. I jumped in and took care of many of the details to make this the big shindig everyone seemed to want. They all seemed SO happy the Grand Lodge officers were coming.

A dinner was held, of course, with a special table for the Grand Lodge officers and their wives, because they, of course, are more equal than the rest of us.

After the meal, an open meeting was held. About a hundred lodge brothers, family members, and members of the public attended.

We had invited local politicians and public officials to attend. The only one who accepted our invitation was the county commissioner, who told a stirring tale of his military service as a member of the color guard at Arlington National Cemetary during the Vietnam War.

I gave a talk on the history of the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag. My talk was well-received, and I was asked afterwards by several people for a copy of my talk.

Six months later, in my role as Director of Masonic Education for my lodge, I was searching for a topic for another talk. I thought of the unanswered questions my Pledge talk had left in my mind, and decided to seek further information.

At that time, I was a subscriber to a Masonic email newsletter written by the state Director of Masonic Education. I wrote him asking a few questions. He didn't know the answers, and so, he published my questions in his newsletter.

I had asked: "I was wondering if anyone could tell me when the Pledge of Allegiance, which has only officially existed since the 1940's, first came to be recited in lodge meetings, and how it came to be included, and if it is considered part of Uniform Work, is it mandated by GL, or simply a tradition?"

I gratefully received several thoughtful replies from brethren around the state. I never did get any concrete answers, though, but what I learned was interesting. One brother said Masons had been reciting the Pledge since it was written in the 1890s (which, I guess, is technically true since it was written by a Freemason); another recalled it was first adopted in his lodge in the 1960s. Others, who knew the Pledge had become officially recognized by Congress during the 1940s, said that Masons had first used it in lodge at that time. No one seemed to have any definitive answers.

Never would I have expected to receive the following reply. I've deleted the name of the writer, to save him embarrassment.

"Who the hell cares, are you American or what? Do you have a problem with pledging allegiance to our Flag? The Flag was first shown in Lodge by Brother Gen. George Washington, Why would any AMERICAN EVEN QUESTION saying our pledge? — WB _________, Masonic Service Association Representive to the VAMC in Atlanta GA, President Executive Committee, VAVS VAMC Atlanta, Ga., and a PROUD VETERAN OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES"

This was my first exposure to this kind of attitude in Masonry.

Never one to back down from a redneck, even one trained to kill in 147 different ways, I wrote W. B. ______ (yeah, he signed his email with the "W. B.") the following:
My obligations prevent me from speaking ill of one who is capable of writing such a rude, arrogant and thoughtless email. I, for one, care about when and how the Pledge of Allegiance came to be recited in the lodge room. It's history. It's knowledge. It's information. It's education. It's Light.

It's my job. I'm the Director of Masonic Education. Not the Director of American History Class, not the Director of Proud to Be An American Day, but the Director of Masonic Education. I'm here to learn. And to teach my Brethren.

You have no right to be judging my patriotism or motives in asking a question. Last summer I was the one who made the motion that our lodge install a flagpole from which we fly the U.S. Flag and the Masonic flag. I was instrumental in putting together the Flagpole Dedication Ceremony and U.S. Flag Raising that the Grand Lodge members along with the DAV rifle squad graciously conducted for us and to which local and state government officials and the public were invited. I ran the ads. I wrote the invitations. I took photographs. I was the one that gave a 20-minute presentation on the history and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance. (Read it at [website no longer online].)

Recently I had simply asked Bro. _____ if he knew the answers to my questions. He put the question in his newsletter. I wanted to present an update to the Brethren of my lodge. Yeah, my lodge... full of proud veterans, DAV members, American Legion members, etc. Seems not all vets are as sensitive as you are when someone asks a legitimate question.
This "worshipful brother" had more to say to me. He replied:
You are pretty senistive [sic] yourself. My email was not meant to be rude but to only question. In these days when all the liberal Democrats and the ACLU, atheists, queers and foreigners are trying to change our pledge, take away our Ten Commandants [sic], tell us that we have to accept queers, can't offend anyone, can't fly the American Flag because it might offend our neighbor, I have every right to question the motives of anyone. The Masonic fraternity is not immune to having someone slip in and try to stir up things.

Yes I am a proud Veteran, and a very proud American. After serving our great nation for 30 years in uniform, I have earned my right to question. I was spit on once returning home from a combat zone, this time I have learned to spit back. For the first time in history a traitor got on the ballot for President of the United States, for the first time in the history of our great country everything we stand for is being questioned, slandered, slurred or torn down.

My email was not meant to be rude just to question motives, which is my right. Your email was very rude in itself. The anwser [sic] to your question is very easy obtained and listed in Masonic documents. Even played out in the the [sic] Masonic Play the SR does.

In this day and age, I will always questions peoples [sic] motives for questioning things that have not been questioned before all the liberals and AH's see [sic] to have taken over.

If it offends, get over it.

thank you
Worshipful Brother ______
I assume "AH's" in his next to last paragraph means "assholes."

This exchange was a foreshadowing of things to come, I can now see. It was about a month later that I gave the talk in my lodge, the one that enumerated Grand Lodge rules and Masonic traditions and landmarks that forbid the discussion of politics and religion within a lodge. That event is documented in "Small Town Freemasonry — Part 1: A Bucket of Rattlesnakes."

When I first joined Freemasonry, I had no idea that so many of the 60 to 75-year-old Masons I would come into contact with in the 2000s would be the now older then-middle-aged rednecks with flat-top haircuts and "Love It Or Leave It" bumper stickers of the 1970s... you know, the kinds of guys that shotgunned Billy and Captain America off their motorcycles in the film Easy Rider. I had thought that THAT crowd had moved on to the Moose Club and the John Birch Society, not into what I thought Freemasonry was, a group of noble and tolerant Knights dedicated to the betterment of humanity. Whoops! My bad!

— Widow's Son

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Friday, August 25, 2006

A Shriner speaks out

Many thanks to TubalCain420 for finding this gem of an emailed newsletter from Shriner Carl Jones of Dallas, Texas, written last winter to his Shrine brethren.

...If the founding fathers of this country, MANY of whom were Masons, took the attitude of "peace and harmony" that we take today, we'd all be sending the Queen Mum a birthday card! There are times when you MUST stand up and speak out....

February 17, 2006

Dear Friends:

I'm 99% certain that some of you won't like what I'm about to say if your Fez says "Divan" or "PP" on it.... But, as we all know, this won't be the first or last time that happens. And if you'll read this with an open mind, you'll have to agree I'm right on the points I make.

Every now and then, a fact hits you so hard and so squarely in the face and you just have to comment on it... This is one of those times.... like many before now and many in the future, I'm sure!

Anytime you have the inmates running the asylum, you have nay-sayers... so I'm ready for the typical mail I get after emails like this. I have a tee-tiny file all set up for it. And I also have a folder set up for the mail that is supportive of this position! That email ALWAYS outnumbers the naysayer's by about 25 to 1. And that is precisely why this list of mine is so widely read. It's one of the only, if not the only, voice that lays it on the line without being censored by "the powers that be" within the fraternity. Plus, I'm not now, nor ever again in the future, running for any Masonic related office and so I don't have to be p.c. just to garner and retain votes — or cower before the "movers and shakers" — or any of those other ridiculous and antiquated ways of living. I think that might be one of the reasons why so many G.L. and Imperial Officers around the country are on the list — as well as MANY readers across the pond. They read what is REALLY going on in certain areas without the information being filtered....

As you'll read below, Shrine membership is down to 411,000 from about 940,000 in 1980. I have some thoughts as to why.... However, first let me say that I tip my fez to Imperial Sir Ralph. He's doing a phenomenal job getting the information out and I consider him to be one of the greatest assets of the Shrine. Like me, he loves email and he knows it's CRITICAL to share vital information with our membership. Great job, as always, Ralph! And while I'm at it, let me say that our Imperial Officers are doing all they can do, and more, with what we — as Shriners — give them to work with. The problems, as I see them, originate at the local level and our national leaders have little, if anything, that they can really do to correct them. For the THOUSANDS of hours that our Imperial officers donate to our Fraternity over their 10 year time in the line, they should NEVER hear that they are the problem or that they should be able to solve our problems. So let me go on record as saying we should get off their backs and look to ourselves to get these problems fixed. Imperial doesn't have a magic wand. WE, as Nobles, do! IF we will use it.

411,000 Shriners left on our way to MAYBE 100,000, if we are lucky, before we either implode or turn the corner....

I don't think we can turn this battleship before then because, as I've said before, we have FAR too many "fiefdom's" which are "holy ground" to their tenant's and these guys would rather drive this fraternity into the ground, rather than give up their perks...or not have people kiss their butts at every meeting, or be revered for what they did DECADES ago....

How do I know??? Well, after 5 years as EWG Chairman at my local temple (where our EWG results were pretty darn good) I spent 2 years on the Divan before deciding to reclaim my life and not run for office again. (It turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.) Plus, along the way, I was on the investment advisory committee and prepared incredibly detailed financial reports including projections for 5 years in the future -- on EVERY line item on the budget based on up to the minute, accurate financial data. (Including those line items that contained those "sensitive" expenditures.... which weren't really discussed with the Nobility that much..) There were also more than a few other stops in positions of responsibility so I'm comfortable saying that I know what's going on, generally speaking, on these matters. And, as a CFP, I understand financial statements and spreadsheets pretty well.... The numbers were frightening, to say the least. The loss of income and increased expenditures by 2006-2007 would make a grown man cry.... I know that I was shocked to see how bad the problems were, and even more shocked to find out that the guys above me on the line, at that time, wouldn't take action because it would negatively impact "their" year.... That's funny to me. "Their" year.... I thought the years in a Shrine Temple belonged to ALL of the Nobility.... didn't you?

That particular temple is lucky to have another outspoken man on the Divan now. He's a PP and is the Recorder. The first one in years to actually do anything, as far as many of us are concerned. He at least shows up, knows the rules, works, is liked by the staff and respected by the Nobility. He's a successful businessman, who is through running for office and as such, speaks his mind without fear of political fallout. He's written some great articles recently in their monthly publication which tell it like it is. BRAVO SIR! That Temple has to depend on catering and rentals to cover a huge part of their expenses because there just aren't enough Nobles to pay all of the bills any longer. Gee... I wonder why there aren't enough Nobles there any longer???? Or why the average age of their Nobility is about 68. (Nothing wrong with 68! But it's harder for a 23 year old Shriner to be "in touch" with a Noble 45 years older than him than it would be to be in touch with a Noble 10-20 years older. Birds of a feather, STILL flock together....)

Now, on a general level and not specific to any particular Temple — WHY do MANY (not all) Temples have such massive losses in the Nobility? Let me think... How about these for starters:

1. Incompetent Divan Officers.

2. Fiscal foolishness.

3. Fiscal improprieties.... (oh yes)

4. People in positions of leadership who should have been run out of the Fraternity on a rail, YEARS ago.

My personal opinion, and my personal research CLEARLY suggests to me that younger, professional, intelligent men — especially those with families — have NO interest in being part of ANY group that is run by people decades older than them who are primarily interested in getting free clothes (Divan uniforms) purchased for them by the dues of their members, or getting free "adult beverages" purchased for them from the dues of the many, or having MANY trips and dinners paid for them by the Temple. The "old ways" created the image of "old white men who are often drunkards". (I told you that some of you wouldn't like this email...) But friends, the truth is that description is the EXACT description used by people as they answered this question that I asked them — "What comes to your mind when you think of a Shriner?" I assure you — I was speechless when I kept hearing those words, or similar (and worse) words used to describe our Fraternity.... That's what they thought... and MANY people said the same thing.... Sure, there were some good comments too. But there were FAR too many negative comments for my tastes...

Let me offer some thoughts on each of the 4 items above. I'm sure that most of this won't come as a surprise to many of you, but then again, it might. And if nothing else, I hope it will cause you to stand up in the next Stated Meeting and ask some HARD questions of the sitting Divan Officers — and then have the guts to not let them off the hook until they answer. They know the answers... believe me. They just don't want to give you those answers... not then and not in a public forum! You'll see the sweat on their brow and you'll see 'em squirm when you start to ask these... trust me....

1. Incompetent Divan Officers. We've all seen them. They are often identified by the fact they love to say, "I just want to be a PAST Potentate." Where DO we find some of these people? I know! We find them with the help of some of the very people that should have been run out of the Fraternity years ago. These aren't leaders. They are minions. They are "yes men"... or I should say, "yes boys".... Brothers, if you keep electing incompetence to the Divan's of North America, we'll be LUCKY if we have 100,000 Shriners before we turn off the lights....

2. Fiscal foolishness... Wow... SO many things, so little time. Let's start with temples who are begging for funds for the building campaign in their monthly newsletters while at the same time they are out buying potentate pins, potentate cups, sending divan members on expense paid trips (check your Temple budget under "fraternal relations") and more.... If you'll look at the FINE PRINT in some of the budgets being passed en masse, you'll see what I mean. Just keep looking... and digging!

3. Fiscal Improprieties. In my opinion, buying clothes for the Divan, buying liquor for only the Divan and their selected few, and worse isn't foolish. It's WRONG. Dead wrong. And when that same Temple is begging for funds for the building fund, at the same time they are blowing money on these "perks"... it's more than wrong — it's an impeachable offense. I guess it's okay for the cooks to put food from the Temple kitchen in the car of the Chief Rabban... but if it's okay, why would they have to whisper?? To me, that just looks like "something is fishy." Look at Units too! I know of one Unit that wanted to use BUILDING FUNDS to send select few of their members to Imperial! They thought they were pretty funny guys by hiding the funds of the unit in an account controlled by 2 of their wives and not giving a financial report when Divan officers would visit at their Stated Meetings.... The potentate at the time got wind of it, (gee... how did that happen?) and read them the riot act! He required the funds to be put back into the unit account at once! And of course, they weren't the only ones doing it, just the only ones that got caught....

4. People in positions of leadership who should have been run out of the Fraternity, YEARS ago.... We all know them... they pretend to be our buddy when in reality they are the kind of blight on the Fraternity that runs good men off and keeps quality men from inviting their friends to join. You tell me... when you have an Imperial Potentate visit your Temple and attend a dinner with the leaders of the Temple and their wives, do you think it's appropriate for one of the more notorious wives to holler out at the Imperial Potentate like she's at a junior high school football game? Sure, she did it, not the Shriner, but she barely beat him to the punch. And when you have these kind of people in your midst, do you tolerate them or set them straight? I bet you do what most people do... you tolerate them — at the cost of losing good men, while taking in more 3rd rate men. Why??? Because we value FAR TO HIGHLY "peace and harmony". Brothers, listen up — if the founding fathers of this country, MANY of whom were Masons, took the attitude of "peace and harmony" that we take today, we'd all be sending the Queen Mum a birthday card! There are times when you MUST stand up and speak out....

With those few topics addressed and a few thoughts on each one laid before you, let me end by saying the ACTIONS STILL SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. What actions am I proposing? Glad you asked! First — ONLY actions that are in keeping with our Masonic laws, codes, rules and regulations. ONLY those. Period. NO exceptions. There is plenty that all of us can do while remaining FAR inside the "acceptable" boundaries of conduct.

Next, stand up and speak out! ASK QUESTIONS DURING STATED MEETINGS!! (without tipping off the Divan you'll be asking them....) You have a RIGHT to know the answers to questions like:

1. Are ANY of the Divan uniforms paid for by Temple funds, and if so, how much did they cost US, the Nobility. Don't accept the pat answer, "Nobles, you approved the budget for that...." Wanna know when you approved the budget for that? I'll tell you when... when you let them read a 2-3 minute version of your budget that night instead of the ENTIRE budget.... Why would you do that? I'll tell you that too.... You let them do that because they ALWAYS do it "that way" and you were in a hurry to go home and "get that borin' meetin' stuff over...."

2. Are ANY funds of this Temple used to buy liquor for the Divan and if so, how much did it cost US, the Nobility. Don't accept the pat answer, "Nobles, you approved the budget for that...." Wanna know when you approved the budget for that? I'll tell you when... when you let them read a 2-3 minute version of your budget that night instead of the ENTIRE budget.... Why would you do that? I'll tell you that too.... You let them do that because they ALWAYS do it "that way" and you were in a hurry to go home and "get that borin' meetin' stuff over...."

3. Are ANY of the trips being taken this year, by the Divan and their select few, being paid for by the Temple and if so, how much did it cost US, the Nobility. Don't accept the pat answer, "Nobles, you approved the budget for that...." Wanna know when you approved the budget for that? I'll tell you when... when you let them read a 2-3 minute version of your budget that night instead of the ENTIRE budget.... Why would you do that? I'll tell you that too.... You let them do that because they ALWAYS do it "that way" and you were in a hurry to go home and "get that borin' meetin' stuff over...."

4. Are any of our elected or appointed divan officers, men who are, or have been in the last few years, the subject of written complaints by other Temples for their public conduct, drunkenness and aggressive behavior. Remember, Brothers, if these people continue on the path they have been on, YOUR Temple may well find itself on the 6 pm news when, and if, these people "act up" again.... We aren't talking about good natured kidding here. We're talking about public displays of disrespect brought about because the person was, again, drunk. And if there ARE any people like that on the Divan, ask the Potentate right then and there why he would appoint someone like that to a position when there are hundreds of other men who wouldn't be such a liability to the Temple and ultimately to the Kids in the Hospital. We do what we do to help the kids, right? That's why I became and remain a Shriner. I thought that was "reason #1" why ALL of us became Shriners. To help the kids... isn't it?

My suggestion is that you, as the person asking the question, ask the other Nobles who would like an answer to these questions, stand up with you. The sight of a roomful of people standing, expecting an answer, will be rather hard (impossible) to ignore without sending another clear message.

You might be asking, "what torqued Carl so hard that he'd take the time to send this out?" The answer is simple — our Fraternity and it's ability to help kids in our hospitals is fading before our eyes! We MUST DO SOMETHING, NOW!!! Read what Imperial Sir Ralph says. It's what I quoted at the top of this note... 411,000 men! Down from 940,000 only a few short years ago! The Shrine is down over 50% in membership during the time I've been a second generation Noble. I deeply believe the 4 points I made above are CLEARLY a HUGE part of the reason. I know of more than a few Temples who have ALL 4 of these issues in place. And you know of them too.. But what are we going to do about it? (talk is cheap!) I've started this ball rolling. What will YOU do?

Will you stand up at the next Stated Meeting and ask these questions? Will you stay the course and get the answers then and there, or will you vacillate and let them stall the Nobility again and again....


Will you as a Divan member, stand up FIRST and address these questions? There are Nobles from almost every Temple in Shrinedom on this list reading this along with you. Can you imagine how impressed they'd be if you took the high-ground and brought these issues to light before they bring them to light?

I'd be impressed to have the divan at my temple do it. But I won't hold my breath....

What you do is up to you. But if some folks don't have the backbone to stand up and stay the course, we're going to need somebody to turn off the lights as they exit the building... and soon.

Do something productive at the NEXT Stated Meeting and EVERY stated meeting after that until membership is turned around!

And congratulations to those Temples who have long ago addressed these issues and ARE showing an increase in membership! We tip our fez to you!

Best Wishes,
Carl E. Jones, CFP
Topper the Magic Clown
Past Master, Knox Corinthian Lodge #851
Past President, MWSA, 14th Masonic Districts, Dallas, Texas

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Giving Masonic sign of distress in court lands man in hot water

A Flint, Michigan man is in hot water with the local judge, who himself is in hot water.

Judge Herman Marable, Jr., has been charged in a lawsuit brought by attorney Kenneth M. Scott with denying due process to 209 people who were brought before him in his court by citing them with contempt of court.

Marable was both the complainant and the judge, which violates court rules. Many of the 209 people spent time in jail for the contempt citation, and paid $5,500 fines.

According to Spero News:
Spero News reported in April that Marable had a man escorted from court by officers for using an apparent hand gesture from Freemasonry that some interpreted as threatening, while others felt was a plea for favorable treatment in the courtroom from Marable. The judge, however, assured the man’s employer that he was not in any hot water over the incident. Police contacted the local center of Freemasonry and determined that the leader there had instructed the member to go before Marable for a favorable decision based on their purported shared affiliation.
It is undocumented, but from the story, it seems that Marable is a Mason.

Another attorney has recently sued Marable on the same grounds. That suit was dismissed last week. Marable claims he is the "subject of political machinations."

Image: Photo of Judge Herman Marable, Jr., singing karaoke at the World Karaoke Championship

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And then there were eight: Pluto no longer a planet

After a week of clashing over the essense of the cosmos and drinking Pan-Galactic Gargleblasters, leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet.

The International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of its planetary status, which it had held since it was discovered in 1930. Disney's dog was named after the planet, not the other way around.

Finally, there is a definition of planet: "...a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's, CNN reported.

Pluto is now reclassified in a new category of "dwarf planets," similar to what long have been termed "minor planets." Personally, I would have held out for the word "planetoid." So much cooler.

Another new category has been created as well: "small solar system bodies," a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.

Atrologers will be happy that they can now drop the difficult to account for Pluto from their readings. For now, planets are back to the eight "classical" ones: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Oh, right, astrologers consider the Sun and the Moon planets, too. Oops.

The conference of 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries had us fooled. Last week there was a proposal on the table to not only keep Pluto, but to add its moon and two other objects as planets, bringing the count up to 12. Before the change in definition, even Earth's Moon would have been called a planet under one proposal.

Once before a celestial body has been de-planetfied. In the 1800s, Ceres, now considered an asteroid, was considered a planet.

Pluto was quoted as saying, "I had a good run... 76 years... and you can't take THAT away from me."

And in 2003, Xena, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto discovered by Michael Brown of Cal Tech was hyped as the 10th planet. Now, it's the largest of the dwarves.

And poor Charon, the largest of Pluto's three moons, is no longer under consideration for anything. It had such high hopes, but even its parent Pluto has been dissed.

Image: Pluto and two of its moons.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Everything is perfect in American Freemasonry

This morning Burning Taper received this letter from a purported Grand Master:


I’m here to say that everything is perfect in American Freemasonry. We have some of the finest and most capable of leadership of any organization in the world. The rumors you may have heard about there being a decline in membership are all entirely false. Freemasonry is stronger than ever.

Our enlightened leaders are hunting down the bad apples among us — the men who are disrupting the bliss and harmony we know as Freemasons. They are being removed from among us. In the spirit of maintaining our perfect brotherhood and to speed a return to our blissful state the Grand Master in his infinite wisdom is doing away with such silly formalities as trials. After all, we know these men are guilty so why bother with trials? A quick end to this will return bliss and harmony to our perfect Order.

There is also another foul rumor circulating among the Craft which is so dubious that it doesn’t even warrant a response but I shall mention it in passing. Some of these evil ruffians have suggested that there is racism in certain Grand jurisdictions and that men of color are not allowed in their lodges. I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Our perfect organization is open to all free and honorable men regardless of color. In the jurisdictions in question they simply have not found any free and honorable men of color to allow into our perfect order. This is not a problem but proof of the perfection of our system. Never doubt, my brothers, the integrity of this institution because we are all bound together by the same obligations to one another.

My brethren, you must always keep at the forefront of your mind that Freemasonry is an institution of equality and that all Masons meet upon the very same Level. All Masons are equal and you should never question this fact. It is only that some of the greater men among us are ever so slightly more equal than others. This is another proof of the perfection of Freemasonry throughout the ages.

You can all rest soundly knowing that everything is just and perfect in our perfect institution, and do not worry yourselves in the least over these specious lies and rumors. Go back to your gentle work and we will take care of everything for you.

—I. A. Crook, Grand Master

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Teacher burns flags as lesson in free speech

As a hands-on example of free-speech a high school teacher in Louisville, Kentucky last week burned two American flags, Fox News reported.

On Friday, Stuart Middle School seventh-grade social studies teacher Dan Holden burned the flags in class as part of a civics lesson.

The students were then asked to write an essay discussing their opinions on the issue.

More than 20 parents complained to the school on Monday.

Pat Summers, whose daughter was in the class, got her 15 minutes of fame by giving a reporter this amazingly dull quote: "She said, 'Our teacher burned a flag.' I'm like, 'What?"'

Holden has been teaching at the school since 1979. He was relieved of teaching duties and placed in a non-instructional position yesterday.

The district also alerted city fire officials.

"Certainly we're concerned about the safety aspect," Roberts said. Then she added, along with "the judgment of using that type of demonstration in a class."

Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, said Holden has "been teaching for many years, and has by all accounts a good teaching record. It was not a political statement and was meant to illustrate a controversial issue. To fire someone because of that would be inappropriate," he said. "It wasn't like he was taking one side or another."

Congress attempted to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag burning earlier this year. It failed in the U.S. Senate.

The Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union's director Beth Wilson said the school district is allowed to decide what's instructionally appropriate, but that "if a school is masking their objections to flag burning under the guise of safety, it raises questions about freedom of speech and academic freedom."

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Emperor's passengers wear no clothes

It seems no one thinks the new improved airport security is making the world safer for flying.

The new "Keystone Kops" approach to security is costing airlines millions of dollars, says Ryanair, one of Europe's top airlines. The airline has threatened to sue the British government for compensation unless airport security measures are returned to normal within seven days.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive officer of Ryanair, ridiculed the notion of searching five- or six-year-old children and elderly people in wheelchairs going to Spain. He said such scenes would have "terrorists laughing in the caves of Afghanistan."

Speaking of laughing, Bro. John Ratcliff tells us that now that terrorists have created bombs made out of fabric, passengers are being required to disrobe down to their skivvies before boarding airliners.

Captain Oveur: "You ever been in a cockpit before?"
Joey: "No sir, I've never been up in a plane before."
Captain Oveur: "You ever seen a grown man naked?"

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Brotherhood of Freemasons

"The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession — what there is of it." — Mark Twain's Notebook

The Brotherhood of Freemasons by Bro. Jeff Peace

Brotherhood is at the very core of everything Masonic. We go so far as to cordially refer to one another as “brother” even in public settings such as Internet forums and restaurants, but what do we mean when we say this? Perhaps more importantly what should it convey to the other Mason?

We swear not to defame a brother and to defend his good name. We swear to keep his secrets inviolable. We sear to aid and assist him. What sets our Masonic brotherhood apart from any other that we may come across on the streets of any city or in any small village or town?

To many Masons, Hiram Abiff defends the secrets of the brotherhood with his life, but they never stop to think about what those secrets protect. If Hiram gave away the secrets of a Master Mason to the thugs that were accosting him then they would be received into the Order as true brothers. From the ritual it is clear that they are immoral and violent men not deserving of another man’s trust. Hiram gives up his life to preserve the integrity of the brotherhood and to keep such men from being trusted as brothers.

Today we live in a world where brotherly love is virtually unknown. How much more important is brotherly love to Masons today than ever before? Many young men enter into our brotherhood believing that it is genuine and very real. It should be.

Unfortunately, the West gate has been left unguarded for far too long and many ruffians have made their way through it. The actions of these men cause the true brothers to question the credibility of our brotherhood; they jeopardize everything Freemasonry stands for.

Real brothers are not just fair-weather friends; they are dedicated to the true spirit of Masonic brotherhood and stand by their brothers even in the darkest of times. Anyone, even a profane, is happy to be your friend during the good times, but they vaporize into thin air when you truly need their friendship. Freemasons must recognize the value of their brotherhood and begin the process of healing the many wounds inflicted upon their brothers by the ruffians. This will be a difficult and painful process but it must be done if Freemasonry is to grow and flourish among men of all nations. It is up to us, as Freemasons, to demonstrate before the world the true meaning of our brotherhood and its great value among all men.

Are you willing to be a true brother or is it too difficult and painful? Can you stop for a moment and see the world through the eyes of another? Are you willing to defend the brotherhood as Hiram did? Will you take the time out of your busy life to do what is upright and moral?

These are questions every Mason should ask himself each day.

— Bro. Jeff Peace

Image: William Dean Howells and Samuel Clemens. Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

CBS commits to produce TV pilot about anti-Mason 'cult expert' Bob Larson

CBS has given the go-ahead for a pilot episode of an exoricism-themed drama based on the life of self-proclaimed cult expert, exorcist and anti-Mason Bob Larson, according to Hollywood Reporter. Larson was profiled in an article on Burning Taper in March.

Joan of Arcadia team of Barbara Hall and Joe Roth with co-produce the pilot. Roth was the executive producer of the 1990 film Exorcist III.

According to Larson's website, through his ministry and what he calls Spiritual Freedom Conferences, Larson teaches "the principles of spiritual freedom" and the "many ways that demons attack human beings." Larson is the founder of an international group of churches and has written 30 books, including such titles as Larson's Book of Spiritual Warfare and Larson's Book of Cults.

Larson hosted the syndicated radio program Talk Back With Bob Larson, which featured such topics as Satanism and exorcisms, and now hosts a radio and a TV show, both titled "Bob Larson Presents: Spiritual Freedom, that air on radio stations and on the Internet.

If Larson's expertise on Freemasonry is any indication of his overall knowledge, the new TV show will probably portray the paranormal about as well as a Scooby Doo, Where Are You? episode.

In one book, Larson erroneously tells his readers that third-degree Masons are called Shriners, and that "Masons refer to their 33rd degree Masons as 'Worshipful Master.'"

According to a 1993 Cornerstone magazine article, Larson once tried to make a name for himself as an anti-rock-and-roll crusader. After that idea fizzled, he eventually hit it big on the anti-Satanist circuit.

According to the Cornerstone article, Larson's fundraising techniques have long been controversial. It is alleged that he ran and re-ran taped religious radio programs for years as if they were live, setting the call-in numbers to be "busy" while keeping the toll-free 800 number donation line open. Later, the article says, he got more sophisticated and did live commentary while re-using old call-in recordings, manipulating would-be donors with a called-in pledge that was "sent by God."

An ex-employee claims to have not only ghost-written but totally fabricated Larson's account of the Satanic ritual abuse of a small girl.

Even Christian magazines and other ministers have painted Larson in a less-than-flattering light. Apparently, Larson lashes out with charges of conspiracy whenever anyone speaks out against him.

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Delaware Grand Lodge recognizes Prince Hall Masonry, report says

In an unconfirmed report Bro. Tim Bonney of Freemasonry Resources posted on Saturday, Aug. 12 that the Grand Lodge of Delaware has now recognized Prince Hall Masonry. We have not been able to independently confirm this report, but if true, this leaves only the southern states holding onto their racist heritage by not recognizing as Masons the Brethren of the mostly black Prince Hall lodges.

According to this map, provided by Bro. Paul Bessel, the Grand Lodges of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina still do not in any way recognize Prince Hall Masonry. Another ten states' Grand Lodges still have only limited recognition, and some states that recognized Prince Hall still do not allow visitation between lodges.

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Unanswered Questions: Shriners — Part 7

Investigative reporter Sandy Frost continues her examination of alleged financial corruption in the Shriners' organizations with Part 7, "Unanswered Questions." The Burning Taper published Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in May and June, 2006. Links and commentary to Parts 4, 5, and 6 were published in July.

Unanswered Questions by Sandy Frost

This story began unfolding four months ago, after Vernon Hill, a Shriners whistleblower, tried to find an investigative journalist willing to look into his allegations that the top echelon of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, a 501c3 non profit charitable group, was corrupt. To date, six investigative articles have been written. Here is Part 7.

- What does “non profit” mean? -

Imagine if you will, a box labeled “Fraternal, 501c10, Shriners Temples” and another box labeled “Charitable 501c3, Shriners Hospitals for Children.” The first group oversees the individual temples of which Shriners are members and, according to their articles of incorporation, oversees and controls the second group, the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Both have very distinct non profit classifications per the IRS. As such, each group is supposed to function separate from the other, though in this case, it appears that the fraternal controls the charitable.

Non profit status confers the following benefits on both groups:

(1) exemption from federal and state income tax
(2) ability of certain non-profits to make purchases without paying state sales tax
(3) ability for certain non-profits to receive tax-deductible contributions

Non profit groups have strict disclosure guidelines, especially when it comes to their taxes. Certain questions on the IRS non profit 990 tax return forms provide important indications of how a group is doing. Or tell who the group is affiliated with. Or answer if they lobbied or if they had real estate transactions between the corporation and directors, officers or employees. Or if they amended their governing documents.

- Article Highlights -

Here are the highlights of the previous six articles. A comparison of similar questions asked by this writer, the General Accounting Office (GAO) and Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, follows.

1) A series of investigative articles published by the Orlando Sentinel in 1986 reported that in 1985 the Shriners kept 71 percent of the $21.7 million raised to pay for clubhouse expenses, including the upkeep of private bars, restaurants, golf courses, conventions, travel, entertainment and fund raising. Less than 2 percent, or $346,251, went to the medical care of the children.

2) Shriners whistleblower Vernon Hill has worked with a former IRS agent and accountant, Paul Dolnier, for the last year and a half. They ordered and analyzed thousands of pages of Shriners tax returns which led to Dolnier presenting evidence of alleged charity fraud to the chief investigator, auditor and counsel for Pennsylvania’s Charitable Special Investigation unit during a six hour meeting in spring of 2006.

3) Non profit watchdogs like (non-profit arm of the Better Business Bureau) and American Institute of Philanthropy are howling about how the Shriners Hospitals for Children seem to be “hoarding” money that could be used on the medical needs of more sick children. The Shriners control over $9.5 billion dollars, which is eleven times their current operating budget.

4) After corporate corruption cases like Enron and Worldcom, business experts emphasize the importance of conflict of interest policies for a corporation’s board of directors, officers and trustees. In the case of the Shriners, there have been years of 100% overlap between those on both the Shriners’ 501c10 fraternal board also sitting on the Shriners’ 501c3 charitable board. There have also been years when hospital officers sat on both boards.

5) The lack of disclosure on the Shriners’ tax returns of real estate transactions involving Lewis Molnar, recently retired CEO of Shriners Hospitals for Children, Charles Cumpstone, recently retired executive vice president and Donald W. Peirce, a recently deceased employee. The last real estate transaction took place in 2003 and was not reported to the IRS.

6) On October 17, 2000, a Resolution was filed with the Polk County Clerk, Florida, that grants the Shriners’ top echelon unlimited power to execute all types of financial transactions without accountability to or oversight by internal governance committees. This change in governing documents was not reported to the IRS.

7) In 1998, the Shriners had a beginning cash balance of $354 million. By the end of the year, they lost over $351 million or 99.1% of what they started with. In 2001, they lost $614 million in investments. And in 2002, the Shriners lost nearly 16% of their investments, down by $1+ billion dollars or $1,045,760,830.

8) Fraternal Articles of Incorporation state that “The objects and purposes of this corporation and business to be transacted by it are…to maintain, control, conduct and superintend any and all charities, benevolences and hospitals now established, maintained and controlled by the Imperial council and to create and maintain a charitable and educational fund…for the purchase, erection, operation and maintenance of Shriners Hospitals for Children.” This does not match what the fraternal organization states as their purpose on their tax returns.

9) Over the past three years, Hill and others have asked Shriners leaders questions like “Where does all the money go?” Instead of receiving any answers, these Shriners have been ignored, kicked out, removed from committees and in the case of Hill, sent a “cease and desist” email from Shriners corporate attorney. Is there further punishment for such actions? According to Shriners ritual, the punishment is "In willful violation whereof may I incur the fearful penalty of having my eyeballs pierced to the centre with a three-edged blade, my feet flayed, and I be forced to walk the hot sands upon the sterile shores of the Red Sea until the flaming sun shall strike me with livid plague, and may Allah, the god of Arab, Moslem and Mohammedan, the god of our fathers, support me to the entire fulfillment of the same. Amen. Amen. Amen." (1)

10) It appears that the “Cease and desist” email sent by the Shriners corporate attorney to Hill violated the “Whistle blower Protection” provided by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. In July, 2003, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was signed into law after corporations like Enron were caught illegally pursuing annual profits rather than maintaining sound business practices. The law calls for new standards for governance, financial transactions and audit procedures. It calls for the establishment of an independent audit committee, policies that address insider trading and conflicts of interest, spells out the responsibilities of auditors, requires certified financial statements, mandates the disclosure of tax returns in an “easily accessible way,” provides whistle blower protection and addresses document destruction so as to prevent criminal obstruction.

- Unanswered Questions -

Two sets of questions have been emailed to the Shriners Director of Public Relations; the first sent on 7/11/06, over a month ago and the second sent on 7/28/06, nearly three weeks ago. To date, both remain unanswered.

The first email asked about the Shriners hiring a lobbyist named Hershel Gober, former Director of Veterans Affairs for the Clinton administration. These questions included “Why was this relationship reported to the U.S. Senate but not disclosed on the 2005 tax returns?” and “Why would Gober, as confirmed by Gober himself, lobby against the Sarbanes-Oxley act on behalf of the Shriners Hospitals for Children?” Other questions include:

1) Specifically, what are the points of Sarbanes-Oxley that the Shriners lobbied against?
2) What did the Shriners hope to accomplish by lobbying against Sarbanes-Oxley?
3) Who was involved with the meetings set up by Mr. Gober?
4) Who is currently lobbying on behalf of the Shriners?
5) Are the Shriners still lobbying against Sarbanes-Oxley?

Are these issues that address non profit transparency and accountability important? The General Accounting Office and Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, seem to think so. The second email sent to the Shriners asked questions similar to those asked by a July 28, 2006 General Accounting Office (GAO) survey and by Senator Grassley.

According to the GAO survey cover letter:

“As a part of Congress’s continuing efforts to oversee the activities of the nonprofit sector, you asked us to review executive compensation issues at selected private, nonprofit hospital systems to gain an understanding of the policies and practices related to the salaries, benefits, travel, gifts, and entertainment expenses paid by these hospital systems. Our study’s key questions were as follows:

• What corporate governance structure do selected hospital systems report as having in place over executive compensation?

• What is the basis for the compensation and benefits earned by, awarded to, or paid to the executives as reported by selected hospital systems?

• What internal controls do selected hospital systems report as having in place over the approval, payment, and monitoring of executive travel and entertainment expenses, gifts, and other perquisites?”

Senator Grassley had this to say about the study:

“We need to insure that charitable assets benefit those who need them most rather than those who need them least…In my experience reviewing charities that have failed their mission, poor board governance unites them all. When the board members fail to understand the gravity of the task before them, charities suffer…In 17 percent of the cases, the CEO or other top paid executives were voting members of the executive compensation body. In essence, they were voting to give themselves their salaries and benefits. Critical audits of personal entertainment expenses, spousal travel, automobile expenses, and social club dues are not being performed on a regular basis…”

On May 25, 2005, Senator Grassley sent out his own set of questions, asking non profit hospitals to account for activities related to their non profit status. “The Congress is considering the issues of tax-exempt organizations and particularly the duties and requirements of public charities in relation to the billions of dollars in tax benefits that tax-exempt organizations receive at the federal, state and local level,” he wrote.

Here are some of the unanswered questions emailed to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Those in common with the GAO and/or Senator Grassley are marked as such.

1) Is there a conflict of interest policy or other disclosure mechanism for Board Members, Officers, Trustees and others in high level positions for both the fraternal and charitable organizations to disclose any investments or others interests in companies or organizations who have patent licenses/agreements/contracts with Shriners Hospitals or that are the result of research done at any of the Shriners Hospitals or on behalf of Shriners Hospitals or by anyone associated with Shriners Hospitals? (Q7, Grassley)

2) None of the tax returns list expenses or expense accounts for any of the Officers, Directors, Trustees or Key Employees for either the charitable or fraternal organizations. Please provide the last three years of expense reports or other accounting information for these individuals. (Q21, Grassley. Q36, Q37, GAO)

3) Are there annual performance audits of the Board members, Trustees and Officers of both the charitable and fraternal organizations? (Q18, GAO)

4) When the officers, Directors and trustees serve on both the charitable and fraternal boards, are their expenses paid for in both capacities? (Q36, GAO)

5) Will you please provide a list of the board meetings for the past three years for both the fraternal and charitable organizations, to include date, location, who attended as well as expense reports or accounting for each of those who attended as well as for costs paid for by both organizations? (Q36, Q41, GAO)

Here are some of the unanswered questions raised in previous articles that were also asked by the GAO.

1) Does your hospital system make loans to its CEO or any of the other top four executives? (Q30, GAO)

2) Since January 1, 2004, has your hospital system made loans to its CEO or any of the other top four executives for the following purposes, specifically real estate? (Q 31, GAO)

On Monday, July 31, a call was placed to Shriners Headquarters to determine if Alicia Argiz-Lyons, the Shriners Corporate Director of Public Relations had received the emailed questions. She answered the phone and confirmed that the emailed questions had been received.

When asked about the conflicts of interest of real estate transactions between Shriners Hospitals for Children and Lewis Molnar (recently retired hospital CEO), Donald Peirce (IT employee who recently died) and Charles Cumpstone (recently retired executive vice president), Argiz-Lyons answered “One is dead and the two others are not here any more. And besides, they happened when the Shriners moved their headquarters.”

I then suggested that Argiz-Lyons answer did not negate the fact that these transactions happened and I suggested that she search the public records to locate the real estate records in question. I told her that the real estate transactions had not been reported to the IRS. Argiz-Lyons said that the IRS had “been down there for 18 months and found nothing wrong.”

She then asked me if I’d been to a Shriners Hospital for Children? I said no, I had not and certainly, the good that was being done on behalf of the sick and crippled children was commendable.

She then said “If you really want to help the children, you’ll stop spending all your time asking questions.”

As a professional courtesy and as the "fact checking" process I've used for the past five years, an email was sent to Argiz-Lyons on Friday, August 4, to provide her the opportunity to confirm or deny what had been said during our July, 31 conversation. To date, this, and the previous two emails, remains unanswered.

These unanswered emails seem to follow the Shriners Hospitals for Children pattern of stonewalling questions about their finances. The questions that need to be asked now are “Why do they refuse to answer the questions?” and “What might they be hiding?”

(1) The Encyclopedia of Fraternities, by Albert Stevens

All copies of material reprinted or duplicated from “by Sandy Frost” must include the following credit line: From Copyright © 2006 by Sandy Frost. Used by permission.

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