Sunday, June 04, 2006

Masonic Witchhunts

Masonic Witchhunts by W:. Tim Bryce, PM, MPS

As we all know, a Masonic Lodge is supposed to be an honorable institution where Brothers are equal and enjoy harmony. Unfortunately, the harmony can be disrupted when two or more Brothers don't see eye-to-eye on something. Theoretically we are supposed to respect the opinions of all Brothers, right or wrong, and let it go at that. Basically, we agree to disagree. But it is sad when Brothers use the fraternity to push their own agenda and besmirch the character of anyone opposing them.

When I was Worshipful Master of my Lodge a few years ago I was often challenged by my antagonists in the Lodge. I resisted the temptation to lower myself to the level of my detractors and endeavored to rule and govern the Lodge fairly. Whereas I could have dealt with them harshly, the worst I ever did was gaveled one of them to sit down during a lengthy discussion (which occurred only once).

Thanks to my business, I have been fortunate to see quite a bit of the world, meet a lot of people, and have dealt with a lot of corporations. A lot of people haven't had such experiences and, as such, when they become head of a nonprofit group, such as a Worshipful Master, it represents the pinnacle of their career. And because of this, they become inebriated with power. As I tell all incoming Worshipful Masters, Masonry is a volunteer organization. The Master is a benevolent dictator who should be mindful of his constituency. It is a privilege to sit in the East, not a right. Without the support of the Craft, nothing will happen, regardless of how power hungry you might be. Nonetheless, not everyone shares my view on this and often use their term of office as a reign of terror. I have seen more and more of this happening recently in the fraternity. For example, what happened to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota over their recognition of the Grand Lodge of France a few years ago can best be described as "dirty-pool." The facts were not accurately reported and the officers of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota castigated.

There have also been recent reports in other Grand jurisdictions where the Grand Lodge officers have used their office to bully their constituents, and to expel or suspend members over trumped-up charges without the benefit of a Masonic trial. This is not Freemasonry as I understand it. I have also seen Worshipful Masters and other Brothers from craft lodges suspended due to political paybacks or because someone simply didn't like the person. Its pretty scary when we see Brothers digging up dirt on other Brothers, back stabbing, fabricating distortions of the truth, and twisting the interpretation of our rules to suit our personal needs,

Freemasonry is a multicultural, multi-denomination institution, with Brothers who possess a wide variety of personal and professional interests and who live under different socioeconomic conditions. It should therefore come as no surprise that we won't always love all of our Brothers. However, we should respect their right to exist and treat them with the same dignity we afford all Masons, in a uniform manner. This fraternity, which was founded on some rather sound fraternal principles should prohibit such "witch hunts" from occurring. Anything less is sheer hypocrisy. Freemasonry is not a place for character assassination or to conduct some personal vendetta. It only tarnishes our credibility as a noble institution.

How often have you heard someone say about a person being elected to Master, "Well, its only for one year."? A lot can happen in one year. Reputations can be ruined, Brothers can be suspended or expelled, and life in general can be made miserable. This is why I still have a problem with the manner by which we elect our officers. I am most definitely not a fan of people "rotating through the chairs." Instead, we should allow nominations and be allowed to ask about the candidate's qualifications and motivation for seeking an office.

As the fraternity struggles with membership and finances, I would remind you that now is not the time for alienation or estrangement, but rather how we can best work together as a cohesive unit. We need more Freemasonry and less Masonic Mafia tactics. Finally, I have only one suggestion for those who believe in political domination and control over a nonprofit organization: "Get a life."

Keep the Faith.

Note: As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and "FreeMason Information"

— Bro. Tim Bryce

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