A story from England about a Masonic lodge moving into a former church and setting up a members-only bar got me to wondering about Masonic rules about alcohol.
In the south (at least in Georgia), alcohol use among Freemasons seems to be openly frowned upon, but I've found nothing that says it's banned. In at least one other southern state, I've heard of a brother being expelled for owning a liquor store.
Yet in other parts of America, alcohol seems to be an integral part of Masonic festivities. And in England, of course, it's long been a tradition to imbibe at Festive Boards held after stated communications.
Masonic lodges were held in taverns in England during the 18th and 19th centuries, and for all I know, may still be today.
The duties of the Junior Warden is to see that brothers don't "convert the hours of refreshment into excess," which makes no sense unless it's expected that during refreshment, brothers will be consuming alcohol. Surely it doesn't mean the JW should police the over-consumption of pound cake and hot dogs.
A quick perusal of the Masonic Code of Georgia shows that intoxication, but not the consumption of alcohol, is considered a Masonic offense. Selling an illegal alcoholic beverage (or drug) is forbidden, as is selling alcohol to someone under the age of 21. [Sections 77-115, 77-116, and 77-116.1, sandwiched in between a rule about debts to the lodge or each other and a rule forbidding "exemplification of the Hiramic Legend" to a non-Mason.]
I've heard it said by some Georgia lodge members that it is against Masonic law to bring into or consume on lodge premises alcoholic beverages, but I've never seen it in print, other than a sign posted at my lodge, and in the contract used when the lodge hall is rented by outsiders. I assume this is a rule adopted by my lodge, or is in their bylaws, though maybe it's a statewide edict of which I'm not aware. I have seen brothers enjoying beer at other local lodges during fundraising events.
I'd like to hear from our readers who are Masons: Can you tell us about how the consumption of alcoholic beverages at Masonic events is viewed in your jurisdiction, and if you know, how it came to be so, and why? Is it a part of the after-meeting Festive Board? Do you have a bar in your lodge? Do you drink alcohol at events? Or is it banned?
In your comments, please be sure to include your U.S. state or country of residence. Thanks!
Image: A Scottish Lodge in Thailand toasts a new Master at his installation.
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