Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Church wants square and compasses removed from historical landmark

Christians are a strange bunch.

Oh, sorry. I mean, some Christians are a strange bunch. I promised I wouldn't "paint with a broad brush" an entire religion of what, two billion people.

In Elgin, Illinois, near Chicago, overseers (their word, not mine) of Family Life Church are appealing a ruling by the city's heritage commission that they can cover, but not remove, a compasses and square emblem on the outside wall near the top of the building and a cornerstone from the Masonic temple they bought to use as their worship center.

The building, "erected to God" in 1923, is protected as a historical landmark.

Church officials told the city that the symbols "conflict with their religious beliefs."

Meanwhile, last Saturday, in Fort Morgan, Colorado, near Denver, officers of the Grand Lodge of Colorado performed a cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Christ Congregational Church.

During the ceremony, the symbols of Masonry were explained.

"The Holy Bible is the inestimable gift of God to man," Karl Hinkle, Junior Grand Deacon of the Grand Lodge of Colorado said. "By the square, we square our actions, while the compasses teach us to circumscribe and keep our desires and passions within due bounds."

Exactly what are the religious beliefs of the evangelicals in Illinois, that the three great lights of Freemasonry "conflict" with?

You can read Family Life Church's "faith statement" here. It's a long list of their beliefs. I don't see anything expressly forbidding Masonic symbols, but since they quote the book of Ephesians twice in their list, they're probably fans of the anti-Masonic Ephesians 5:11 website.

As I quoted in the recent article "Christian Kool-Aid," "belief is the death of intelligence."

I wouldn't say that the overseers are totally brain-dead yet, but the coroner is on stand-by.

Image: The Masonic square and compasses emblem atop the Family Life Church in Elgin, Illinois

| | | | |


  1. Once a Temple is no longer Masonic it should have all Masonic references removed:

  2. Superstition is stronger than logic. I have never understood my fellow christians when they believe symbols have strong 'ju ju.' If they bought the temple knowing it's historic designation and the 'cover up' requirement then why not act like good christians and respect their community and believe their faith that tells ownership and rights only belong to God. Who, by the way and by the same logic would also own all symbology.

    Silly Church.

  3. Hmmm, let's see.... An organization purchases a building that is a historical landmark for their use. The organization doesn't like elements of the historically protected building. They now want to deface an historic landmark.

    Why the heck did they purchase it in the first place? It sounds like the person or committee that arranged the purchase was blinded by the opportunity to own a beautiful, prominent, historical piece of architecture.

    They should either cover the "offending" images as per the city's instruction, or they should sell the building and move on. Defacing it should not be an option. I am growing tired of this approach to a relative history where people are removing key elements of history to suit their agenda. It's a lie and a misrepresentation of the historical past.

  4. "Once a Temple is no longer Masonic it should have all Masonic references removed"

    I don't understand why you would say this. If the building is private property, then the owners can do with them as they wish. But if the building is a historical landmark, then it should be treated with the same respect as any other historically significant building.

  5. The decision was made to let them remove the Masonic symbols. From the local newspaper....

    Church can remove Masonic symbols

    A downtown Elgin church can remove Masonic symbols on the outside of its building, the city council said Wednesday night.

    The council voted 5-2 to let members of Family Life Church remove two markings from the former Masonic temple they bought on East Chicago Street.

    The decision reverses an Elgin heritage commission ruling that the church could cover, but not remove, the symbols.

    At issue are a compass and square symbol on the front face of the building, and Masonic dates etched on the temple's cornerstone.

    Church officials have said the symbols conflict with their religious beliefs.

    Council members disagreed, but on advice of their legal counsel, they said they couldn't stop removal of the symbols because city code is vague on whether the markings are ornamentation or a significant architectural feature of the building.

    "I'm very conflicted about this," Mayor Ed Schock said. "What tenant of their church is offended by the Masons?"

    Pastor Jamal Turner from Family Life Church told the council he wasn't prepared to answer specific questions Wednesday about how his religious beliefs conflict with those of the Freemasons.

    Turner declined comment after the council's vote.

    Council members Mike Powers and John Steffen voted against overturning the heritage commission's ruling.

    "I view this building as a landmark, architectural landmark for the city," Powers said. "I think that changing the facade would be a serious mistake."

    Steffen agreed.

    "It's fundamentally part of the building," he said. "(The compass and square) is the focal point of the front of the building."

    My problem with this is that it's altering something that is accepted as historically significant. This is a dangerous precedent in my opinion.

  6. The decision was made to let them remove the Masonic symbols. From the local newspaper....

    Crazy as it sounds, I applaud this decision. Let'em remove the S&C - what difference does it make to us? Remember, they were going to cover them up in the first place.

    I'm all for preserving historic structures when possible, but not at the expense of those who own and maintain the property. In many ways, it's "Eminent Domain Lite" when the owner(s) can't even paint or repair a house or other building unless it's done to standards arbitrarily set by some glorified beautification committee.

    If it were an old structure built by, say, a Satanist group, then we could well understand the church wanting the symbols removed. Why is this much different?

  7. I agree with you Tom. This was a good call to remove the Square and Compasses.

    Who are we to question their belief?

    We don't like it when we are challenged on ours.

    They bought it, they own it, do with it as they please.

    I'd be more offended if they wanted to keep the S&C.
    I wouldn't want anyone to assume that Freemasonry and this church are one and the same.

    Br. Arthur Peterson

  8. Elgin Lodge 117 member suggests a conflict of interest in the removal of the masonic emblems and corner stone wich housed a time capsul. City of Elgin work crews were used to remove these items for the new pastor that bought the building. What happened to the seperation of church and state. Thus far the building remains empty with no indication of it being a church. Is the present owner going to flip the sell the building for a profit? Why was city funds used in the removal. The new owner should have expensed this removal project. There is an impropriaty here.

  9. I'm a Mason who works in Elgin (though I am a member of a Lodge nearby, not in Elgin). I was speaking with two Brothers and the most tragic issue is that the Lodge was promised the time capsule and Masonic ornaments that were removed. In fact, while the Lodge did eventually get the time capsule back, the Temple was defaced without telling the Lodge members and under questionable tactics.

    The City of Elgin is now in a quandary as to how to handle this PR mess. While they claim to have acted under the direction of their lawyers, most Masons, citizens and business leaders in Elgin are calling for public action.

  10. "Church wants square and compasses removed from historical landmark"

    Check out:


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.