Thursday, January 05, 2006

I Read Too Much

The Widow's Son has effectively been drummed out of his lodge, though given a "Letter of Good Standing," for attempting to educate his lodge -- as was his duty as Director of Masonic Education.

It will probably baffle those of you who believe the anti-masonic, fundamentalist Christian crowd when they say Freemasonry is evil because it excludes Jesus. Actually, at least in most of the north Georgia lodges I've been in, it seems to be a fairly common misconception that Jesus is the whole point of Freemasonry. Prayers are loud and long, usually consisting of repeated references to "our unworthiness and sinful nature," pleading for revival and salvation, and always ending "in Jesus's name, Amen."

Pages 49 and 50 of the Grand Lodge of Georgia's Book of Masonic Etiquette says in no uncertain words:
Freemasonry is a fraternity. It is not a religion. Its member are presumed to be religious and it operates on the highest and best moral principles taught by all the great religions. But direct or even indirect reference to one's religious preference in a prayer, though inadvertently often done, or the display of a particular religious flag in the confines of a Masonic Lodge, are breaches of good manners and the spirit of Freemasonry, if not of the law itself.

It would be immaterial if all present at the Lodge meeting were all of the same religion and sect, yet this would seem rare and unlikely.... These things are pointed out that we may avoid the violation, in spirit as well as in fact, of one of the most important tenets of Freemasonry.... Our practice seems to show that we are fully aware of the injunction with reference to politics; many do not appreciate fully how our inadvertences in prayer strike some other of our brethren....

For Masons in Lodge to indulge in or practice any form of religious sectarianism is to risk the destruction of the Craft as surely as would be the rule against the discussion of partisan politics in Lodge or participation in partisan politics by the Lodge itself.
I mentioned this fact in a lodge lecture. I was shouted down.

"That's not the way we do things around here!"

"I don't see no Jews or Muslims here -- we ain't gotta worry about that!"

"I thought you had to be a Christian to be a Mason!"

And privately, it was said, "You ain't gonna reform this lodge," and "You read too much."

Once a very active member and officer in my lodge, on my way to the East, I was "un-elected" in December 2005 by a 27-3 vote in what otherwise would have been a traditional advancement from Junior Warden to Senior Warden. I was replaced after my three years of service as Director of Masonic Education by a two-person committee appointed by the new Worshipful Master. The new Co-Directors of Masonic Education are a fundamentalist Christian Past Master with a penchant for long prayers and a new Brother who has been a Mason for about eight weeks. Also, by vote of the lodge, the website I maintained for the lodge for the past three years was "disowned," and I have taken it down.

Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth? Hardly.

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