Thursday, August 30, 2007

Freemasonry is not a religion, but is it a cult?

A reader posed the question on a previous entry, asking if Masonry could be considered a cult.

Here are definitions of "cult" from

1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3. the object of such devotion.
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
7. the members of such a religion or sect.
8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

I'd say that Freemasonry would qualify as a cult under definitions 2, 4 and 5.

It venerates not only ideals, but certain men.

It holds as its basic tenets the ideals of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, or in some jurisdictions, Brotherly Love, Relief and Morality.

It venerates sometimes specific men, but even moreso, specific titles or positions within the Order.

It has an ideology and a set of rites centering around its symbols, which are considered "sacred."

For a group that ostensibly promotes equality, and says that all men are "on the level," it is heavily hierarchical in its organizational makeup; sometimes not following the rules or even whims of those "in power" can result in ostracization, ridicule, suspension or expulsion.

Are we a cult? How many of us would drink the Kool-Aid for Freemasonry?

(Fun fact: The cyanide-laced fruit drink consumed by the Peoples' Temple cult in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978 was Flavor Aid, not Kool-Aid. The phrase "drink the Kool-Aid" has come to refer to those who blindly follow an authority even if it leads to serious harm or death, even though the term was used pre-Jonestown by The Merry Pranksters, and referred to taking LSD.)

Image: Houses used by the Peoples' Temple in Jonestown, Guyana

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ABC video 'exposes' Freemasonry

The Dan Brown PR machine rolls on with this recent video segment from Charles Gibson at ABC News: "Freemasons: A Secret Society — Is a mysterious organization for men plotting a government takeover?"

It's mildly entertaining, once you sit through the commercial for Lean Cuisine. The segment features sound bytes from author Stephen C. Bullock and historian Margaret Jacob.

Architecture of Washington, DC. Eye on the dollar bill. Founding fathers and presidents. Nothing new. They call this news?

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Video: Chattanooga Shriner dune buggy accident

A few weeks ago The Burning Taper wrote about the accident at a parade in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a Shriner-driven dune buggy went out of control and plowed into the crowd.

You can see our original article here and an update here.

And now you can see amateur video footage of the accident.

Watch it here or on YouTube.

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You're invited to The Burning Taper's First Ever Virtual E-Masonic Reunion

In the comments section of a recent article, Bro. Ephraim suggested, "W.S., might I ask you start a post where posters can introduce themselves so we might be able to better understand one's background and views? I think this would be beneficial to the regulars of your blog."

Voila! So mote it be.

You're invited to the Burning Taper's First Ever Virtual E-Masonic Reunion (FEVER).

Grab a beer from the bottomless ice chest (but only if your Masonic Grand Lodge approves; we've got soft drinks and bottled water, too — whatever you want), pull up a lawn chair, and introduce yourself.

Are you a Mason? For how long? Where are you from? What Masonic groups do you belong to? Are you "mainstream," Prince Hall, Le Droit Humain, etc.? What awards, gold chains and fancy aprons have you collected?

Are any of your family members involved in Masonry? Anyone involved with the Eastern Star?

What do you think of Freemasonry? Love it, hate it, tolerate it, wish it was better, or think it's peachy-keen just like it is?

Do you blog? Have you written books or papers, Masonic or otherwise? Feel free to post links.

What do you do for a living? Maybe someone here could use your services.

And since this isn't an official and/or tyled meeting, let's talk religion and politics. (Your lips are already loosened by that beer you're drinking, so speak up.) Are you an American? Are you politically conservative, liberal, libertarian or anarchist? Who do you support for U.S. president in 2008? What do you think of the War in Iraq?

Are you Christian (please specify sect), Muslim, Jew, pagan, agnostic, atheist or what? Do you support mixing Masonry and religion inside the lodge?

Oh, and what kind of drink did you pull out of our bottomless ice chest?

Kick back. Enjoy. Have fun. We'll turn on the karaoke machine later.

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Freemasonry: Is it a religion?

If you've been following the Taper's comments sections lately, you know we've had a troll called Jean bombarding us with pasted commentary from the anti-Masonic sites, going on about how Freemasonry is a religion. She (or he) is convinced Masonry has a plan of salvation, based on the Apron Lecture, and that Masonry is "Luciferian," based on a couple of lines from Pike's Morals and Dogma.

But for every yin there is a yang. Or as Sir Isaac Newton stated, "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."

There's a new Masonic blog, The Square and Compass, operated by an unnamed Entered Apprentice, who, judging from his choice of published links, is from Lewisville Lodge No. 201, in Lewisville, Texas.

Welcome to Masonry, brother, and welcome to the Masonic blogosphere.

I applaud his newfound enthusiasm for Freemasonry, and for blogging, but I question his direction.

His most recent article is a long list of reasons why Freemasonry isn't a religion. His list is lifted from a work titled "'Freemasonry and Religion' by Bro. Jim Tresner, Ph.D., 33rd degree."

The blogger says that he has made it his "priority to educate [himself], Masons and Non-Masons, as well as other Christians about the honor and joy of being a part of our Ancient Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons."

In doing so, in my opinion, he seems to be under the impression that Masonry is a Christian organization, or that it operates under Christian rules, a "fact" he wants to share with his fellow Christian travelers.

His interpretation of the Five Points of Fellowship is:
  1. To Serve
  2. To Pray for our Brothers
  3. To Keep the Business of the Lodge Confidential
  4. To Support All Who Are in Need
  5. To Counsel
I've never seen an explanation of the Five Points like this before. Is this something taught in Texas?

Here's the line from his page on the Five Points that made me want to write this article: "Each day, we must serve first our church, then family, brothers, friends, and even strangers we see in need."

Is this what the Five Points of Fellowship mean to you? Serve first our church?

In the article meant to explain that Masonry isn't a religion that he has copied from Bro. Tresner's work, it says, "And [Masonic principles] are not in conflict with Christianity. Masonry has nothing to do with the religion taught in the Mysteries. Rather, we are concerned with the ethics and morality taught there, ethics and morality which have been ratified by Christianity."

And in yet another one, written by Bro. Rev. Neville Barker Cryer, it states: "As in the case of King Solomon’s Temple we, as Freemasons, can withdraw into our lodges from the rush of the busy world, and in a quiet and solemn atmosphere, find inspiration to put into practice, in the world outside, the lessons we derive from the Holy Bible and our Masonic principles."

So on one extreme, there is Jean's "Freemasonry is a religion, and a Satanic, unchristian one at that." On the opposite extreme, we have this Christian brother's "Masonry is not a religion, but we get our lessons from Christianity."

From various comments, I know that no one who regularly posts on the Taper agrees with Jean that Freemasonry is a religion. Masonry offers no dogma or religious creed, and no "path to salvation." But, as wrong as Jean is, does that mean that the new blogger's explanation that Masonry is not a religion, but since he is a Christian he's going to treat it, more or less, as if it is a religion or an extension of his religion, is correct by default?

I assume Jean colors her (his?) opinion of Masonry with a fundamentalist Christian worldview inspired by conspiracy-minded anti-Masonic websites. And I color my opinions by having been chewed up and spat out by a lodge full of evangelical Christians who see lodge meetings as a Tuesday night prayer meeting. I wonder if that's the kind of lodge our new E.A. blogging brother from Texas has joined.

I have no answers, just questions. What do you think?

Update, Wed., August 29: All the links listed above to the Square and Compass blog have disappeared. It seems the blog has been taken offline.

Image: The Letter G from inside the lodge room at Lewisville Lodge No. 201 in Lewisville, Texas, from an online collection of G's from Texas. It's one of a handful in the collection that appears to be made with stained glass, and the only one that is superimposed with a cross.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Eating the Eye of Horus: Lunar eclipse tonight

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, August 28, Set will eat the Eye of Horus, which will then be magically restored by Thoth, known to the ancient Greeks as Hermes Trismegistus. The Mayans would say the jaguar will eat the Moon. The ancient Chinese think it's a three-legged toad.

But we're civilized, and scientific. The only myths we subscribe to are about alligators in the sewers and Bill Gates sending cash to people who forward his email.

So let's just call it what it is, an eclipse. Beginning at 4:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, early-risers in North and South America will see a total lunar eclipse. The earth will cast its shadow on the moon, slowing crawling across the lunar surface for a couple of hours.

Enjoy the show. There's not another total lunar eclipse until next February.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Wonderful World

Bunnies. Swans. Satchmo crooning.

I bet you never expected to see this much warm fuzziness on The Burning Taper.

Gather the kids around. This is one they won't want to miss.

Watch it here or on YouTube.

Image: Jazz improviser Louis Armstrong, who claimed to be a member of Montgomery Masonic Lodge No. 18 of New York City, a lodge that doesn't appear to have ever existed

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Poo bum dicky wee wee

The CIA does it. The BBC does it. The Vatican does it. The U.S. Republican Party and the U.S. Democratic Party do it. Even Freemasons do it.

Now the Australian government has been fingered for changing Wikipedia entries in a flagrant manner.

While the new agers are fond of saying "you create your own reality," it's people sitting at their computer keyboards, often on a corporate or government payroll, who are really changing reality to suit the whims of their bosses.

Prime Minister John Howard's gang in Australia are the latest reality-changers to be showcased in the media. They've been inserting the word "allegedly" into Wiki articles that they haven't just outright deleted.

The most amusing changes, tracked through the new website WikiScanner, the folks Down Under have made is adding "Freemasonry is the work of Satan" and "Jesus is god" to apparently random entries.

But the strangest addition to a Wikipedia article by the Prime Minister of Australia's department has to be this bit of meaningless juvenile pablum, appended to an article about martial arts: "poo bum dicky wee wee."

Update, Monday, August 27: Australian Prime Minister John Howard has denied ordering his staff to make edits on Wikipedia entries, and the Australian Department of Defense has moved to block access from their computers to Wikipedia, according to the Herald Sun of Melbourne, Australia.

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Three girls missing from Nebraska Masonic Home

Four teenage girls ran away from the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children in Fremont, Nebraska last Sunday, the Fremont Tribune reported.

One of the girls has been found, but Caitlin Craig, 16, Ashley Hesten, 15, and Tiffany Jackson, 13, are still missing. They are believed to have gone to the Omaha area, about 35 miles to the east of Fremont [map].

Please keep these young members of our Masonic family in your thoughts and prayers.

Update, Tuesday, August 28: Tiffany Jackson, the youngest of the three girls, has been located and returned to the Children's home. A 19-year-old man, Juan F. Armenta, was arrested on Thursday for helping the girls run away, and was charged with four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Class I misdemeanors.

Image: Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children in Fremont, Nebraska

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Masonic Traveler gives anti-Masons an earful

Bro. Greg Stewart at the Masonic Traveler blog and webmaster of has given an interview to an anti-Masonic website.

Check out the podcast.

Good job, Bro. Greg!

Image: A Masonic tracingboard created by Bro. Greg Stewart. Copyright © Gregory Stewart. All rights reserved. Used by kind permission.

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The Devil's fossil factory

Lewis Black is one of my favorite comedians. I first discovered him a few years ago on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where he does a semi-regular bit.

Here's a short clip of Lewis Black [Website] [Wikipedia] going off on Christian fundamentalists, Creationism museums, and my home state of Georgia.

Warning: Contains four-letter words.

Watch it here or on YouTube.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Masonic quotation generator

At the top of the page I've added a spiffy Masonic quotation generator, a bit of code I originally used on my lodge's website several years ago.

If you know of any meaningful quotations from Freemasons, famous or otherwise, that you think readers would find of value, please email The Burning Taper with them and I'll add them to the rotation list. They don't have to be about Freemasonry.

If you would like to add the Masonic quotation generator to your own blog or other project, feel free to copy the source code from the template, or ask me and I'll send it to you.

Image: Bro. Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove

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Internet addiction? No, not me... I can walk away at any time

No, really. I'm not hooked. I can stop surfing anytime I want to.

A report today by United Press International says that Internet addiction should be grouped with extreme addictive disorders such as gambling, sex addiction and kleptomania.

According to Dr. Pinhas Dannon of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, 10 percent of Internet surfers suffer from "Internet addiction disorder." The disorder can lead to anxiety and severe depression, the doctor said.

Internet addiction is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that results in "an urge to engage in ritualistic thoughts and behavior."

"Internet addiction is not manifesting itself as an 'urge.' It's more than that. It's a deep 'craving.' And if we don’t make the change in the way we classify Internet addiction, we won't be able to treat it in the proper way," Dannon said Friday in a media release.

Of course, this doesn't refer to us. We're all well-rounded, non-obsessed, normal, intelligent, healthy people.



No, really... I'm not hooked.

"Put the mouse down, sir, and slowly back away from the monitor."

Okay, I will....

But first, I gotta google the phrase "12 steps internet addiction."

Type, type, type — ENTER....

Yeah, here's something from
Are you addicted to the Internet? Here are some indications developed by Webaholics Anonymous that may help answer the question. Do any of these sound familiar?

1. Tech Support calls "YOU" for help.

2. Someone at work tells you a joke and you respond with "LOL".

3. Three words: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

4. You have to get two phone lines just so you can call Pizza Hut.

5. You go into labor and you stop to type special e-mail to let everyone know why you're going to be away.

6. You have a vanity car tag with your screen name on it.

7. You no longer type with proper capitalization, punctuation, or complete sentences.

8. You find yourself sneaking away to the computer in the middle of the night when your spouse is asleep.

9. You turn down the lights and close the blinds so people won't know you are online again.

10. You know more about your chat friends daily routine than you do your own spouse's.

11. You find yourself lying to others about your online time and when they complain the line was busy you claim it was off the hook.

12.You have an identity crisis if someone is using a screen name close to your own.

13. You would much rather tell people that your bloodshot eyes are from partying all night than the truth (online all night).

14. Your kids are standing at your side saying "Mommy, please come cook dinner."

15. You won't work at a job that doesn't have a modem involved.

16. Your dog leaves you.

17. You have to ask what year it is.

18. You write letters like this.... "dear tom, hiyas! how r u doing well i gotta go."

19. You bring a bag lunch and cooler to computer.

20. You use online lingo in every day life (If you still have one).

21. You take a speed reading course just to keep up with the scrolling.

22. The checkout clerk at Wal-Mart asks for your ID and you give her your screen name.

23. You get up at 2 a.m. to go to the bathroom but turn on computer instead.

24. You don't even notice anymore when someone makes a typo.

25. You got your psychiatrist addicted to the Internet too and are undergoing therapy in private chat rooms instead of his office.

26. People say, "If it weren't for your super reflexes in your eyes and fingers you would have been classified as a vegetable."

27. Being called a Newbie is a major insult.

28. You double click your TV remote.

29. You go into withdrawals during dinner.

30. You stop speaking in full sentences.

31. You have to be pried from your computer by the "Jaws of Life."

32. You set your kitchen on fire while cooking because you wanted to just "check your mail" and while there "you just wanted to see who was online."

33. You write your return address on an envelope and put "@" before the street address.

34. When you visit other people's homes with computers you have to resist touching the mouse.

35. You don't resist touching their mouse.

36. Panic attack: Modem Cannot Be Detected. Make Sure the Phone Line is Connected and Try Again."

37. When others are using your computer, you pace nervously behind them.

38. You don't invite relatives that don't have email access to holiday gatherings.

39. If your spouse REALLY wants to get your attention, they send an email.

40. You know how to empty disk cache.
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Great things are afoot

While I sit here making fun of conspiracy-minded fundamentalist anti-Masons, other people are doing and writing about much grander things, both inside and outside of Freemasonry.

I found on California Freemason Online a 2003 article by Bro. Jay Kinney titled "Is Freemasonry Afraid of Its Own Shadow: Masonry's Love/Hate Relationship with Esoteric Traditions," wherein he explores why mainstream Masonry tends to "consign to the lunatic fringe those Masons who have seen or do see connections or parallels between Masonry and the Ancient Mysteries, the great myths, and esoteric traditions." Interesting reading....

Edgewood Lodge No. 82 of Edgewood, New Mexico has republished W. Bro. Phillip Bennison's "History of the Craft." Bro. Bennison examines the different possible histories of Freemasonry, asking whether Freemasonry originated from Megalithic times, King Solomon, Athelstan, the Knights Templars, Medieval Stone Masons, William Schaw and King James I of Scotland, Box charities, the Invisible College or the Rosicrucians.

Pietre-Stone Review of Freemasonry gives us R. W. Bro. Don Falconer's "King Solomon's Temple: Symbol of Freemasonry," a look at the biblical history and Masonic symbolism of Solomon's Temple, the pillars of Boaz and Jachin, and the Ark of the Covenant.

W. Bro. Ronald Paul Ng, of Malaysia, interprets the First and Third Degrees of Freemasonry in light of Prof. Joseph Campbell's basic structure of myth, the Hero's Monomyth, in "The Philosophy of Freemasonry: Its Mythical Structure." The Burning Taper discussed Campbell's The Hero of a Thousand Faces and the monomythic structure in "The Power of Myth: Thou Art That" in February, 2006.

Earlier this week a news story that had nothing to do with Masonry fascinated me. It's about a Jewish man who grew up in a hippie commune in Oregon, who went on to become a radical Muslim, then gave it up to become a Baptist. Along the way, he became an informant for the FBI. CNN called him one of "God's Warriors." I guess some people, anyway, agree that Yahweh, Allah and Gawd are all the same God.

Earlier today, the brother who writes the From Darkness to Light blog let loose on something political he disagreed with that was on a recent X-Oriente Masonic podcast.

Bro. Brian at Grail Seekers posted a couple of interesting links, one to a site showing tattoos of Noon Blue Apples emblazoned with "to the prettiest one" in Greek. In addition to the tattoos, you'll find an interesting discussion of Discordianism and the late Robert Anton Wilson.

Another article Bro. Brian linked to is titled "Astronomy of Astrology", which explores the history of astrology from a scientific viewpoint.

And finally, for no apparent reason, I point you to a story about a cemetery in Meridian, Mississippi, that has gone to weeds since a Masonic lodge that had owned and maintained it since the 1890s sold it a few years ago.

Image: Keira Knightley as Guinevere in 2004's "King Arthur"

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Video says Masons 'ride the goat' to 'conjure up the Babylonian gods of war'

Just when I thought I'd seen all the stupid anti-Masonic videos that whacked-out fundamentalist Christians could create and upload to YouTube, along comes Masonic Pet Goat of Nine-One-One: Presidential Bow Before Bel.

The video is produced by a Christian group calling itself "Protestant Separatist," whose motto seems to be drawn from 2nd Corinthians 6:17, which says, "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."

The group "Protestant Separatist" appears to be the brainchild of Stephen Michael Schroeder, an Indianapolis man with a grudge against Catholics and Freemasons. On the group's home page we learn that the character of Uncle Sam is based on Baphomet. No, really. Superimpose the images and you get, well, you get a superimposed image of Uncle Sam over Baphomet. That's proof enough, isn't it?

Judging from the article on his webpage called "I Stand Alone," we can assume his group is made up of, oh, maybe one person.

Warning — Low blow but I can't help myself: Stephen Michael Schroeder wears his hair in a mullet cut. How can you take anyone seriously who sports a mullet? Even Billy Ray Cyrus had to get rid of his mullet before anyone took him seriously.

The video is a rambling, convoluted and ultimately ridiculous 10 minute montage of video and graphics, narrated by a man (Schroeder, I'm guessing) who sounds like he scarfed down a barbiturate cocktail before he began.

No facts, no information, no references... just idle chatter telling us that "the secret Masonic ritual of riding the goat" is how the "Masonic-controlled Skull & Bones" group controls the world.

It begins, accompanied by The Listening Wind by Talking Heads, by pointing out that when President George W. Bush was told about the first plane that hit the World Trade Center tower, he was in an elementary school, reading a story called The Pet Goat (not My Pet Goat, as the video says) to children.

I agree that's a pretty nifty "coincidence," and given a few minutes to think about it, I could probably write a darn good "those Satanic Masons done it" conspiracy screenplay or short story beginning with this premise. I mean, the authors of the story, which is a part of a much larger collection of children's tales designed to help kids learn to read, have conspiratorial, Bavarian-sounding names, like Siegfried and Bruner.

The video uses images of Glinda the Good Witch of the North and Popeye the Sailor to let us know, somehow, that stars and goats are the way to "conjure up the Babylonian gods of war to continue to destroy the earth, and finally to make war in heaven, until all acknowledge the goat as god."

This guy falls flat on his face with this one. I have to give this video Four (Inverted) Stars for utter stupidity.

Watch it here or on YouTube.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Politician gives stump speech on Masonic temple steps

A few days ago I wrote about the United Grand Lodge of England donating over $10,000 to the building fund of a church a thousand miles away from them.

Some readers said that Masonic support for a specific religious institution was appropriate; others think that it is unmasonic for a Masonic body to show favoritism to a particular sect.

Masonic rules in general only say that the discussion of politics and sectarian religion is forbidden in a tyled lodge meeting. Individual Masons are certainly free to have their own opinions about religion and politics.

Let's explore for a moment the political side of things.

Once, I was chided here on the Taper for a mere reference to the war in Iraq. I don't remember the details, but someone took offense that I would even mention it, as if admitting that it's even going on is a violation of some Masonic obligation, and a jab at President Bush.

This is simply a blog written by a Mason. I don't speak for Freemasonry, Inc. No one man does.

But officers do speak for their lodges, and grand officers speak for the grand lodges.

So what does it say about a lodge that invites a sitting Congressman to show up for a "flag ceremony," and then let him pontificate and campaign on the steps of the lodge?

Is it no big deal, or is it terribly inappropriate?

U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican, spent a while hanging out with Freemasons, Cub Scouts and townspeople at Greenville Masonic Temple No. 284, giving the lodge a flag that had flown recently over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The Daily Reflector
, a Cox newspaper, reported that Jones talked in great detail about the war in Iraq, bragged about his "record," talked about his same-party opponent (though the next Congressional election is still 15 months away), promised to build a new Vietnam War Memorial in D.C., and discussed various issues of state and local interest, like farm bills and the importation of fresh seafood.

Question: Is a Masonic temple, being used by Masons (and not being rented out to a third party), an appropriate venue for an incumbent politician to be making stump speeches?

Image: Cub scouts at Greenvile, NC, Masonic Lodge No. 284, raising an American flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Rev. Dr. Charles G. Finney: 'Masonic oaths pledge its members to some of the most unlawful and unchristian things'

Last week I wrote about early 20th-century preacher Charles Blanchard and his anti-Masonic lecture. Another influential preacher, Dr. Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), a prolific writer and sermonizer, provided us a glimpse into 19th century Masonry in his speech "Why I Left Freemasonry."

Finney was "saved" four years after becoming a Mason. He went on to become a Presbyterian minister. He was instrumental in the 19th-century schism between Presbyterians, and eventually left that denomination to become a Congregationalist. He is said to have been the inspiration for many evangelists who followed, including Dwight D. Moody and Billy Graham.

I did get one interesting insight into early American Freemasonry from reading his speech. He wrote that shortly after finding Jesus, his upstate New York lodge's Worshipful Master asked him to conduct the opening and closing prayers. Apparently, as far back as the 1820's, lodges had cast aside non-sectarian, scripted prayers in lodge in favor of sectarian, Christian prayers, in spite of the rules against it. If, as Finney wrote, the WM asked him to pray because he was aware of his recent conversion to Christianity, and that his prayer caused "considerable excitement" among the brethren, one might assume an evangelical fervor was spreading throughout the area. At least, we can assume that, on average, his lodge brothers at the time were no more interested in Masonic enlightenment and esoterica than most Masons today.

Finney began preaching around 1821, and we can assume that is about the time he resigned from Masonry. His speech refers his leaving Masonry as being a "a few years before the revelations of Freemasonry by Captain William Morgan were published." By 1823, Finney was a licensed minister. (The events of the Morgan Affair occured in 1825 and 1826, also in upstate New York.)

He went through phases, changing his beliefs along the way and changing denominations. In the later 1820's he rejected Calvinism and began promoting "perfection theology." In 1836, he became a lecturer at Oberlin College in New York, where he remained for the rest of his life.

A Presbyterian church lady, Finney related, once refused to sit next to him, saying of Oberlin: "Our minister said he would just as soon send a son to state-prison as to Oberlin.'" Presbyterian minister and rabble-rouser Lyman Beecher once denounced Oberlin Collage as "worse than Roman Catholicism." Apparently, evangelical preachers of the early-to-mid 19th century got along about as well as Antient and Modern Freemasons did.

As Charles Blanchard did later, Dr. Charles Finney gave us a list of what, as a new Christian, he found unchristian in the Masonic fraternity that he formerly loved:
Masonic oaths pledge its members to some of the most unlawful and unchristian things:

1. To conceal each other's crimes.
2. To deliver each other from difficulty, whether right or wrong.
3. To unduly favor Masonry in political action and in business matters.
4. Its members are sworn to retaliate and persecute unto death the violators of Masonic obligations.
5. Freemasonry knows no mercy, and swears its candidates to avenge violations of Masonic obligations unto death.
6. Its oaths are profane, taking the Name of God in vain.
7. The penalties of these oaths are barbarous, even savage.
8. Its teachings are false and profane.
9. Its designs are partial and selfish.
10. Its ceremonies are a mixture of puerility and profanity.
11. Its religion is false.
12. It professes to save men on other conditions than those revealed in the Gospel of Christ.
13. It is wholly an enormous falsehood.
14. It is a swindle, obtaining money from its members under false pretenses.
15. It refuses all examinations, and veils itself under a mantle of oath-bound secrecy.
16. It is virtual conspiracy against both Church and State.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

MI5 whistle-blower claims he is Christ

Some who join and/or study Freemasonry end up bitter and/or bored.

But few of us become batty.

Not so for David Shayler. He sounds battier than Bruce Wayne's cave.
"I am the messiah and hold the secret of eternal life," he starts excitedly. "It all came about quite suddenly.

"First I started meditating, then I learnt how to channel the "light," and the more research I did — into Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, Kabbalah — the more convinced I became that I was the Christ."

Jesus Christ? "No, Jesus of the New Testament is an archetype," he explains patiently. "His name derives from the 13th Name of God in Kabbalah, which helps activate the Messiah consciousness within us.

"I was, though, crucified with a crown of thorns and nails then incarnated as Astronges, a Jewish revolutionary put to death by the Romans at around the end of the last century BC. It explained why in this life I had funny shaped wrists and ankles...."

Had? "Yes, look," he says, proffering his tanned arms. "They've pretty much corrected themselves now I've acknowledged the crucifixion — but there used to be big hollows where nails had been bashed in."
Like late-20th century superstar conspiracy-nut Bill Cooper, David Shayler's background is in government intelligence. (Okay, Cooper made up so much wacky stuff his backstory is probably hokey, too.)

Ten years ago, Shayler whistle-blew his way to fame and misfortune by exposing illegal activities by MI5 and MI6, Britain's intelligence services. His information caused quite a stir, and he fled England for France, where he spent over three years in exile and four months in jail.

A few months ago, he claims, a psychic channeled Mary Magdalene, who annointed him as the new Messiah.

With his new superpowers, he can now influence the weather, prevent terrorist attacks, and predict the outcome of soccer games except when he's drunk.

Using code-breaking skills learned at MI5, he claims he's found his own name, followed by the phrase "Righteous King," in the Bible, as an anagram in Hebrew that was cut into Aaron's rod.

Last June, he "was told" he had to remove darkness from London, so he stayed up all night meditating, and sure enough, the darkness went away! Praise Pike and pass the lithium.

"Suddenly I knew that my mission was to inform humanity about the changes in the universe and spread the spiritual rules of unconditional love, unconditional sharing, never judging and having faith in the universe. If I can convince just one person, it'll be worth it."

Ah, to be on a mission from God.

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Behold a Dead Horse

I knew I should have kept my Masonic nose clean, gotten myself some of those higher degrees, and patiently abided my time until our Illuminati masters from Beta Reticuli tapped me for the secret cabal within the cabal.

By now, I'd be partying in the super-secret subterranean base at the Denver airport and getting free travel across the globe and into outer space in the fraternity's ultra-secret UFOs.

The flying saucer fleet exists. Free rides are available on demand for high-level Freemasons.

I know it's true. I read it on the Internet.

Shhh! Don't tell anyone. It's a secret.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fahrenheit 55

I'm a strong advocate for freedom of choice, and for personal responsibility.

If you don't like this blog, you just don't read it. If you don't like a television program, you just don't watch it. If you don't like Harry Potter, you don't read the books. And if you don't like alcohol, you just don't drink it.

Simple, isn't it?

You don't go on a moral crusade to ban blogs, TV shows or books. You don't try to put TV producers and J.K. Rowling out of business. You just live and let live, letting people who disagree with you go on with their lives, doing what they want.

Unless you think you've got God on your side.

Alabama preacher Eddie Gooch is sure God is on his side, so he and his United Methodist Church congregation have been campaigning to have the sale of alcohol banned in his town. Voters in Athens, Alabama, a town of 22,000 at the crossroads of Interstate 65 and U.S. Highway 72, 25 miles west of Huntsville, are deciding today whether to return their town to the days of Prohibition, AP reports.

Gooch isn't worried about the town losing businesses or tax revenues if alcohol sales are banned. Normal economic growth and God will make up any difference if residents dump the bottle, he said.

"We believe that God will honor and bless our city," Gooch said.

"If it can be voted out anywhere, it will be here because so many Christians are against it," said Teresa Thomas, who works in a Christian book store.

Wonder how she'd feel if books were banned. Where would she work then?

UPDATE, Wed. August 15:
The people of Athens, Alabama, overwhelming told Rev. Gooch they are keeping their hooch!

By a margin of 67.9 to 32.1 percent, the measure to return to Prohibition was rejected.

And... in the southern Alabama town of Thomasville, 57% of the voters voted to go "wet," making Thomasville the 17th city in Alabama to allow alcohol sales within a county that is otherwise dry.


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British Masons donate heart monitor to health center, give cash to church building fund

It seems our British brethren are a charitable lot, and that's a good thing.

Six lodges in Corby, Northamptonshire, England, put their funds together to buy a $5,000 electro-cardiograph heart monitor for the Corby Diagnostic Centre after they learned that the town of Corby has a 48% higher rate of heart disease than the British national average.

Corby Diagnostic Centre outpatients' manager Julie Hodgkins said, "We want to thank the masons very much indeed for thinking of us. We see a lot of people with heart-related problems in Corby and the ECG machine is a very valuable tool for us.

"An ECG machine records the electrical activity of the heart and is used to monitor and diagnose heart disorders. We can also use the equipment for pre-assessment before operations to ensure that people are fit for surgery.

"The new machine will be a major benefit for the department and will replace our old one which was reaching the end of its useful life."

Meanwhile the United Grand Lodge of England gave a bundle of cash away, too, but personally, I can't see how their gesture helps mankind in general. I'd certainly not want my dues or donations being given away to a church building fund.

The Anglican Church site even states their "concerns" about the activities of Freemasons, which I assume means they don't hold the fraternity in very high esteem. But the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was only too glad to accept a check for over $10,000 from the English Freemasons of Gibraltar for its "Rock of Ages Campaign." Alfred Ryan, Deputy District Grand Master in Charge of Gibraltar's English Masons, presented a check to Dean Alan Woods, on behalf of the Freemasons' Grand Charity of the United Grand Lodge of England.

I don't know the details, but giving that much money to a church's building fund, to "a worthy and most needed cause [to] help in the repairs and restoration of the Cathedral Holy Trinity" seems to me to be some sort of "hey, we're not such bad guys after all" public relations move.

Unless, of course, English Freemasons built the Gibraltar cathedral back in 1832, and feel some resposibility to help in the renovation.

Image: The Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Gilbraltar

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Update on Shriner parade collision in Tennessee

A brother who was at the parade on Saturday in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but who was not a part of the Shriner dune buggy (not mini-car, as earlier reported) brigade, has emailed me further information on the collision between two of the Shriner cars. He did not see the accident, as he was on a band float further back in the parade, but his wife, who was near the reviewing stand, saw what happened.

While doing a figure-8 maneuver in front of the reviewing stand, a part broke on one of the cars, causing a loss of control. The driver struck another dune buggy, that then went into the crowd.

Ironically, the people injured by the car were family members of the brother driving the second car. The driver's wife had a broken ankle, and a young girl was cut and bruised on her legs.

Five (not eight, as news sources originally reported) people, including children, sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

The Shriner dune-buggy group was reportedly from the Yaarab Temple of Atlanta, Georgia.

Thanks, brother, for this update.

Read our original story.

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Scottish Rite race car finishes 9th in ARCA 150

As I wrote on July 29, the Scottish Rite website proudly boasted (and still does) that Blake Feese would be driving SR-sponsored car #95 in the ARCA/Re-Max 200 race held in Nashville this past Saturday.

I just checked the race results. Guess what? No Blake Feese.

A little more googling and I found out that instead of running in the ARCA Re/Max 200, he raced in the Toyota ARCA 150, also in Nashville on Saturday.

And finished 9th out of 40 drivers who began the race.


Zoom zoom!

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Unmasonic Conduct: How is it handled in your jurisdiction?

Referring to a specific case where a brother stole £48,000 (about $99,000 US) from his grand lodge and Mark Masters lodge in Northumberland, England, Bro. Chris Connop, a representative of the United Grand Lodge of England said, "We expect high standards of our members and if they fall by our standards, then they are no longer a Freemason."

In this case, a well-paid ($150,000 per year) financial manager, 55-year-old David Glass, who had been a Mason for over 15 years, lost his job, and after exhausting his lines of credit and selling his home, embezzled funds from his brethren.

This story, and Bro. Connop's statement, raised a number of questions in my mind. Some of the questions are specific to United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) Masons. Other questions are more general in nature. Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.
  • At what point, if any, could this have been avoided? Could, would, or should his local brethren have offered financial assistance and/or financial advice to their brother in distress, had they been aware of his situation before the crime was committed?

  • Funds stolen between November 2004 and November 2005 apparently weren't even noticed missing until November 2006. Should a system have been in place that provided more immediate oversight? Should just one man have the ability to write checks and withdraw from lodge bank accounts?

  • Bro. Connop's comment that when members fail to meet Masonic standards they are no longer Masons leads me to wonder how, in England, the removal of a Mason is carried out. Is there a "trial," or does a conviction in a government court automatically cause a brother to be expelled from the fraternity?

  • Have you (American, British or otherwise) ever seen or participated in a Masonic trial? What did you think of it? Was it fair and impartial, even if the accused had already been convicted of a crime by the government courts, or was it mere formality with the outcome already pre-determined? Was the accused found guilty by his Masonic judges? If found guilty, was the accused expelled, suspended, or did he just receive a slap on the wrist? Were the charges even justified in the first place?

  • What particular actions by a Mason, whether the actions are legally considered crimes or not, do you think should warrant a trial and/or expulsion for a Mason? Are specific crimes and actions that are considered unmasonic spelled out in your codes, or is the interpretation of "unmasonic conduct" left to the conscience (or whim) of the accuser?

  • Does your lodge or grand lodge bring charges against a brother only after he is convicted of a crime, or do they take action before conviction, based only on accusation? Do they ever take action against a brother for unmasonic conduct that is not an actual crime?
Image: David Glass, former Freemason

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

What does the letter G mean?

A blog entry on made me wonder what Burning Taper readers think about the letter G, often seen inside the square and compasses on Masonic rings, bumper stickers, etc., and in the East inside a blue lodge.

In Georgia, the University of Georgia is most everyone’s favorite college football team, though not mine. The letter G, usually rendered in red, white and black, standing for the University of Georgia, adorns auto license tags, bumper stickers and rear window decals, and is a commonly seen symbol in everyday life, especially during the fall football season.

Several years ago I was having dinner with my sister, who didn’t know I was a Mason and who really didn’t know much about Freemasonry. She noticed the Masonic ring I was wearing, which has a G inside the square and compasses. After staring at my ring for a moment, she asked me, incredulously but in all sincerity, "When did you become a Georgia fan?"

What do you think the ORIGINAL meaning of the letter G was, masonically-speaking?

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Shriner mini-car accident injures eight in Tennessee

Last month we reported that a satirical website sent spasms through the Masonic community when they "humorously" wrote that 12 spectators were killed when drunken Shriners in a 4th of July parade drove into the crowd.

Yesterday, unfortunately, something similar actually happened.

Eight people were injured when two tiny Shriner cars collided during a parade in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then careened into the crowd, according to the AP.

About 5,000 Shriners are in Chattanooga this week for the 73rd annual convention of the Southeastern Shrine Association.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rev. Dr. Charles Blanchard's reasons why Christians should not be Freemasons

I came across an address railing against Freemasonry delivered by a fundamentalist preacher over 110 years ago.

Dr. Blanchard wasn't just against secret societies. One of his most famous sermons, "The 20th Century Christian" (given at the turn of the 20th century), slammed drinking, dancing, card-playing, the theater, and "lodgism" while promoting Sunday blue laws and putting religion into public education and national politics.

The anti-Masonic speech is refreshing in that it doesn't cite "leading Masonic writers" such as Pike, Mackey, and Hall, nor does it dwell on conspiracy theories about dollar bills, the New World Order, the Taxil hoax or anti-Catholic vendettas.

It's just a nice, long, well-reasoned discourse on why Christians shouldn't be Freemasons.

The speech was given by Dr. Charles A. Blanchard, then president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. It was delivered on August 7, 1895, to nearly 1,600 "Christian workers" from across the country, who had assembled in Northfield, Massachusetts, for a "Conference for Christian Workers" sponsored by evangelist Dwight L. Moody.

Here, according to Dr. Blanchard, is what is wrong with Freemasonry and why Christians shouldn't be Freemasons:
  • The Bible already contains all the instructions for life a man needs; therefore, no other organization or doctrine is needed.

  • A Christian is the "Light of the World," and the Church, not Freemasonry, decides what constitutes "morality."

  • "It is the duty of the Church to point out the evil, not only of some sin, but of all sin." Freemasonry is sin, and therefore, trying to save a Freemason here and there isn't right; all of Freemasonry should be dismantled. "It is better to reform or hang the wreckers than to save one wreck!", Blanchard says.

  • As a follow up to the above reason, he says to avoid Freemasons because most aren't Christians, and thus, are "a mighty factor of evil" against the Church.

  • Masonry and all secret societies are secretive, and "require members to disregard the example of Christ." He exclaims that "no man can be a secret society man and follow the example of Jesus Christ!"

  • Freemasonry tramples upon Christ's commands by hiding things.

  • Citing II Corinthians 6:14, Blanchard says that Freemasonry forces men to "have fellowship with unbelievers."

  • Freemasonry teaches immorality. He comes to this conclusion by saying that Masonic restrictions against having "illicit carnal intercourse" with a brother's female relatives implies that it's permissible to have illicit carnal knowledge with any woman not related to a Mason.

  • Masonic charity is "utterly un-Christian," in that it serves only Masons and their families.

  • Masonry denies God's plan of salvation. "This whole system is a plan to DO AWAY WITH THE ATONEMENT OF JESUS CHRIST and to lead the poor sinner to trust man in the awful day of judgment, with no hope except what his miserable, paltry righteousness has been able to get for himself."

  • You "leave your Savior at the door" when you enter a Masonic temple, since the name of Jesus is not to be used in a lodge meeting.
if evangelical Christian ministers were preaching this kind of anti-Masonic rhetoric over a hundred years ago, why are so many of today's Freemasons also evangelical and fundamentalist Christians?

If you are both a Christian and a Freemason, I ask you how you justify being both, in light of Dr. Blanchard's sermon? Is he right? Wrong? Is it just his opinion or do you think he's speaking for Jesus and/or Christianity?

If he's right, then why are you a Freemason?

If he's wrong, then why are you a Christian?

Image: Rev. Charles A. Blanchard, President of Wheaton College (1882-1925). For more info on Blanchard and his Congregational religious beliefs, see this page at Wheaton's website.

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Priest in sex abuse case blames first Jews, then Freemasons, for his woes

A beloved Italian Roman Catholic priest under investigation for pedophilia has apologized for saying that "a radical-chic Jewish lobby is stretching out to weaken the whole Church..." in a public statement while defending himself on the sex abuse charges.

Father Pierino Gelmini added that he had misspoken, and had meant to say "radical-chic Masonic lobby."

Jewish leaders in Italy demanded an apology, which is what prompted the padre to say "Oops, I meant the Masons."

My thanks to Bro. Kannard of Grail Seekers for the heads-up on this story.

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The Invisibily Visible: New World Disorder

Here's just what the world needs: Yet another anti-Masonic video.

This one, called The Invisibly Visible, is narrated by Washington, D.C., homeboy Abdul Shareef who walks the capital's Masonic-laid-out streets (13 blocks between The White House and the Scottish Rite's House of the Temple!) and interviews a Catholic priest and a Black Muslim cleric about Lucifer and the anti-Christ, and a Jewish rabbi about mysticism, Cabala, Israel's Supreme Court building and the six-pointed star. There are lots of quotes from Albert Pike, Albert Mackey and Manly P. Hall that prove Freemasonry's an occult cult, oddly mixed with sound bites and short clips from a Church of Satan video.

Then there is the obligatory montage of famous politicians making the sign of the Texas Longhorns, this one set to hardcore rock music. And of course, we hear about Adam Weishaupt, the 13's on the Great Seal of the United States, and the eye-in-the-triangle icons on corporate logos.

The video also includes the now classic folding of a $20 bill to show the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center.

What makes this one different? It's long — it's 25 minutes of your life you'll never get back — and it has an interesting soundtrack, with hip-hop, rock, and, near the end of the movie, a song that sounds to me like Cat Stevens singing new words to Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven.

"I give it an 86, Dick. It's got a funky beat I can dance to."

You know — if I keep watching this kind of stuff I may just come to believe it. Trite as it is, it's infinitely more interesting than your average blue lodge stated communication.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Catholic Church claims Freemasonry responsible for rupture in diplomatic relations between Mexican gov't and Vatican

We tend to think of the Catholic vs. Freemason controversy as something from centuries past, and in America, worrying that Freemasons control the world, or at least influence national politics, while fodder for the anti-Masonic conspiracy nuts, is usually downplayed or ignored in polite conversation and in U.S. news reports.

From England we often see articles about the fear townspeople have of the "network" of Masons in political, judicial and law enforcement positions. Demands for Masonic membership lists are common.

In Mexico, too, it seems, Freemasons play a prominent role in politics.

Today I found an interesting item from the Catholic News Agency. The Vatican maintains that for most of the 20th century, Freemasons controlled the politics and government of Mexico.

The report stated:
Mexican Masonry played a decisive role in the configuration of the Mexican State and in political measures such as the stripping of the Church's right to own schools and communications media, the right to vote of priests and religious, and the rupture of diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

The anti-clerical policies were kept in place throughout the entire period of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), dominated by the Masons, from 1929 to 2000.
Recently, Mexican bishops announced they would begin a campaign to regain the rights stripped from them by the previous Mexican constitution, put into place at the behest of Freemasons.

"The Great Teacher" Pedro Marquez, head of the Grand Lodge of the Valley of Mexico, reacted by accusing the Church of wanting to "return to the past."

"The Catholic hierarchy wants to dictate a political policy and that is a very grave error, as our society is no longer in the era of Christianity and priests are no longer viceroys of New Spain," Marquez said during a press conference.

"There is a tendency in the Church to meddle in the social and political affairs of Mexico, but the priests should return to their Churches," he added.

Bro. Oscar J. Salinas sheds further light on the political and religious intrigue surrounding Freemasonry in Mexico in his 1999 talk titled "Mexican Freemasonries: Encounters with Religion and Politics."

Update, Saturday, August 11: A priest known only as "Father V." picked up on this Mexican Masons story from the CNA, and posted the following as part of his "priestly commentary":
I would invite any Catholics who are Masons to renounce their memberships (and not to receive Holy Communion until having done so), get to confession, and join the Knights of Columbus! Your time will be better serving the Lord and His Church, and your dues won't be going to activities that you wouldn't want to support.

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