If you've followed the Burning Taper with any regularity, you've read many of Bro. Jeff Peace's articles, and you probably know that he along with 14 other Master Masons were erased, without trial or due process, from mainstream Georgia Freemasonry in 2005.
There are many articles on the Taper about the RRCG. Just use the search box on the top left next to the Blogger symbol to find them. Be sure to read "Renounce the Rose Cross of Gold or face banishment, says the Grand Lodge of Georgia," dated March 4, 2006.
In a recent issue of the official magazine of the Philalathes Society, a Masonic publication, Bro. R.S. Sagar made reference to Bro. Jeff and the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold, repeating half-truths and distortions that he'd probably heard third-hand.
Bro. Jeff wrote to the editor of the magazine to set the record straight about the beginnings of the RRCG, about how they worked with the Grand Master to make the group an official Masonic club, about the Georgia Grand Master's surprise edict against it, and about the subsequent erasure of Bro. Jeff and over a dozen other Georgia Masons.
Here is his letter, which appeared as a two-page spread in the April 2007 issue.
February 23, 2007
Bro. Samuel B Walker, President
The Philalethes Society
204 Bushy Hill Road
Deep River, CT 06417
Dear Bro. Walker:
I wish to reply to the letter from Bro. R. S. Sagar, published in the October 2006 Philalethes Magazine regarding the expulsions of brother Master Masons by the Grand Lodge of Georgia. While Bro. Sagar may believe the information he sent to you was factual, many of his comments can only be based on hearsay evidence, as he was not present at the events about which he writes. As a principal member of the expelled group, I was there, and I would like to add my account to the record about what happened in Georgia.
Since the expelled brothers were never offered an opportunity to defend themselves and their actions before a jury of their brothers, it has become necessary to seek justice in the court of Masonic opinion nationally. The Philalethes Society allowed Bro. Sagar to publish the perspectives of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. I ask the same for a group of young Masons whose only crime was that they cared passionately about Freemasonry, and endeavored to try something new based on that shared passion.
In his letter, Bro. Sagar stated that: “The true facts of the situation are as follows. In recent years several members of the Grand Lodge of Georgia had, despite all accepted Masonic tradition and custom, tried to promote the so-called “Rite of the Red Cross of Gold”; the long discredited and debarred “Rite of Memphis”; and (I Believe) the desirability of allowing females in their lodges. There was evidence also of a desire to affiliate with an upstart so-called Grand Lodge in England. One of the group stated to me personally, the United Grand Lodge of England was false and the new group was the “Real Grand Lodge of England”.
Ignoring the pejorative language, the above statement is only partially true. In 1999 I, along with a small group of dedicated young Master Masons, tried to create a new Masonic club based loosely around the old Rite of Memphis. This was done because we saw a need for something new and exciting in Freemasonry that would keep and attract young Masons. At the time I knew little about the old Rite, other than it was dead, and wrongly assumed that no one would care if someone picked it up and did something with it. Subsequently we discovered that the Scottish Rite (SMJ) viewed the older Rite of Memphis with disdain and suspicion, and upon that discovery we immediately abandoned this concept.
We then began thinking about the possibility of creating something entirely new that was based in the traditions of the past, but offered them in a new and exciting format. After much thought we formed a new organization which we named the “Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold” (RRCG) based on an old legend I read about in a book. It was in no way connected with the Rite of Memphis. Bro. Sagar wrongly and inaccurately connects the two.
Bro. Sagar then suggests that the RRCG desired to allow women into our lodge. This is patently false. The RRCG was a Masonic club that met in a regular lodge. You had to be a Master Mason in good standing of a regular Masonic lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge of Georgia in order to join the club. By its own rules the RRCG clearly barred women from membership. As I can find no reason to think that Bro. Sagar would purposefully misrepresent this fact, I can only assume that he has been misinformed.
Bro. Sagar’s final statement regarding the Regular Grand Lodge of England is a complete mystery to me. If the RRCG had desired to work with a new Grand Lodge in England, then why did we spend so much time meeting with the Grand Master of Georgia trying to become a recognized body? Clearly, from the very beginning, our only desire was to form a new Masonic club that worked within the bounds of mainstream Freemasonry, and to do so in a legal manner.
Bro. Sagar then states that: “Attempts were made by high present and past officers of the Grand Lodge to rectify the situation without satisfaction. Eventually there was no recourse but to deal with it in Grand Lodge in accordance with established Masonic custom.” As far as I am aware it is the “established Masonic custom” to formally charge a brother in his lodge if you believe him to be guilty of a Masonic offense. He is then given the opportunity to defend himself before his peers. No charges were ever filed against any of the expelled brothers, nor were they permitted to offer anything in their defense before the Grand Lodge of Georgia. They were guilty simply because the Grand Master said they were guilty.
Next Bro. Sagar states: “Known Brethren who had been a part of “The Red Cross of Gold” were given 30 days to renounce their membership therein or be “excluded” from the Grand Lodge. All but two of those individuals did so renounce their memberships.” The first part of his statement distorts the facts of the Grand Lodge’s action while the second is simply false. The brothers were sent letters compelling them not only to renounce their membership in the RRCG, but also to sign pre-written confessions of their guilt upon the threat of being expelled if they refused. In reading the pre-written confessions it became clear that should anyone have signed them, they would then have been expelled for confessing their supposed guilt. In other words, whether they signed the confession or not, they were to be expelled if the Grand Master’s whim so desired.
And Bro. Sagar has it backwards when it comes to the number of brothers who signed the confessions. One signed the confession. One signed the confession but appended to it a statement of his innocence and that all of the members of the RRCG were equally as innocent of any Masonic offense. A third brother refused to sign it but wrote them a letter stating that he had resigned, but felt that the Grand Master had acted un-Masonically towards the RRCG and the younger brothers. The remaining fifteen members refused to sign it.
Clearly, Bro. Sagar’s perspective on the RRCG is nothing more than creative propaganda produced by the Grand Lodge of Georgia in an attempt to defend its own improper conduct towards brother Master Masons. Having been present at all of the critical events regarding the RRCG, I would like to provide my reckoning of the facts, facts that can be supported through the testimony of multiple brothers who were also present. Some were members of the RRCG, but not all.
In March of 2005 Brian Roper approached Grand Master Albert Garner, Jr., about officially recognizing the RRCG as a Masonic organization in Georgia. The Grand Master told him that he would need submit legislation before the Grand Lodge of Georgia to change the Constitutions, and that this process would take two years. Approximately a week later the Grand Master informed Bro. Roper that he was wrong about the need to change the Constitutions and that he would form a committee and setup a meeting with the other Grand officers to allow Bro. Roper to present the RRCG and its By-Laws so that it could be reviewed. The committee was composed of Past Grand Masters and leaders of some of the other Masonic bodies in Georgia. We were delighted by this opportunity to make our case for our new club, and several members of the RRCG attended the meeting as well as the Worshipful Master of Sandy Springs Lodge, No. 124.
The committee members asked everyone questions about the RRCG and the By-Laws were turned over to them. The Grand Master asked only one question: “What has lead to all of the confusion over this organization?” to which I replied, “A lack of good communication.” Everyone agreed that good communications was essential to the success of our endeavor, and I agreed to setup an email list consisting of all the brothers present to foster better communications.
It was then that Gary Lemmons, PGM, rose to the floor and discussed how that each year the Past Grand Masters discuss the decline in membership and how to keep and retain younger Masons. He said that the young Masons are here telling us what they want, and I recommend that we give them an opportunity to try this new organization. Everyone seemed to agree with him. We were told that there would be another meeting after the committee had an opportunity to review the By-Laws and make any recommendations. We left this meeting feeling hopeful and energized about the apparent support for our new club.
Two days after the meeting the new email list was setup and tested. Several members of the committee responded to the initial email, but after that the list fell silent. I contacted Bro. Ed Tante (a member of the committee) to see if he was receiving any messages from the list. He said that he was but that the Grand Master had instructed all of the committee members not to communicate with the RRCG members. He also told me that he already had a list of recommendations for the RRCG but that he wasn’t allowed to give them to me. This was a complete turn-around from what had been discussed at the committee meeting about the need for better communication.
The next meeting of the committee didn’t take place until July, and the members of the RRCG were barred from attending. We were told that the results of the meeting would be communicated to us by the Grand Master. Weeks went by without a word from the Grand Master. Then I received an email in August from a brother in my lodge pointing me to the Grand Lodge’s web site. Here was posted a new edict declaring all un-recognized groups to be clandestine. I then called the Secretary of my lodge asking if he had received a copy of the edict. He said that he had not. After some research I discovered that the edict had not been sent to any of the lodges in Georgia. In the past all edicts of the Grand Master had been sent out to all of the lodges.
I called the Grand Master and requested a meeting and he agreed to meet with me and the other brothers. He cancelled the meeting and several attempts to reschedule the meeting were postponed.
I received an email from Past Grand Master Gary Lemmons in which he told me that the RRCG had done everything that could be expected of them, and that he could not understand how anyone could claim we refused to work with the Grand Master and Grand Lodge.
The Grand Lodge of Georgia met in late October and then in early November we received the letters that presented us with a Hobson’s choice to either sign a pre-written confession which would result in our expulsion, or refuse to sign and be expelled anyway. Then in late December, we were sent notifications of our erasure from Freemasonry.
I think it is more than clear from the events that took place that the brothers who were expelled were the victims of a political coup, and not guilty of any Masonic offense. We worked with the Grand Master and Grand Lodge in good faith to have our club recognized by them, but were not treated with the openness and fairness expected of Masons, more especially Grand officers. We were and still are good Masons, and hope that by making known what happened to us in Georgia, other good brothers do not suffer the same fate just for trying to make their lodge and Freemasonry a better place for all.
At the end of the day, our only crime was that we were passionate about Freemasonry and wanted to start a new Masonic club. Our biggest error was in naively trusting our Grand Lodge officers deal with us on the square, coupled with our utter failure to appreciate that our club would be viewed as an intolerable threat by the Scottish Rite (SMJ) that must be stopped by any means necessary. We did not realize the extent to which the influence of SMJ reached into our Grand Lodge. We never saw it coming, and we never had a chance.
In conclusion, we only want what any Mason wants: the opportunity to meet and work with his brother in peace, love, and harmony. So mote it be!
Sincerely & Fraternally
Bro. Jeffrey Peace
Formerly of Sandy Springs Lodge, No. 124
Erased by order of MWB Albert F. Garner, Jr. on December 8, 2006
Jeff Peace | RRCG | Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold |Masons | Masonic Erasure | Philalethes Society | Freemasonry | Grand Lodge of Georgia | Burning Taper | BurningTaper.com