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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  1. This is as wrong as politicians visiting churches and making speeches from the pulpit. I believe any church hosting a politicians should--at the very least--lose its non-profit status. Non-profits hosting political or endorsing political candidates is specifically PROHIBITED under IRS code.

    Not only that, but Masonry rightfully prohibits discussion of politics within a lodge. The front steps are part of the lodge.

    Whoever allowed this event at their lodge should be brought up on trial for un-Masonic activities, found guilty since the evidence is unequivocal, and be disemboweled forthwith. Period.

    Fraternally yours,
    The Libertarian

  2. I found an email address for the secretary of Greenville Lodge No. 284:

    And the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina can be emailed at

    — W.S.

  3. 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?

    Absolutely not. Masonic lodges should not publicly take any sides politically or religiously. To do so really only encourages the opinions, misunderstandings, and conspiracies. The only side we should take publicly is that of the communities we are in. Politically we are Americans, which is why the "flag ceremony" is appropriate. Even more masonic would have been to invite both the incumbent and his opponent to show support for the system in which our country was founded and continues to strive to succeed in. Many brothers have been successful and well known Republicans and Democrats, the best PR(should we need it) is to expound that.

  4. It goes against the basic tenets of Freemasonry.

    Politics and Religion are NOT discussed, promoted, or even mentioned in a lodge of Freemasons.

    Yet here in America Masonry has been transformed into a quasi-religious/poltico social club. Anyone who "thinks" differently than the membership is wrong and is treated as a trouble maker or an outsider.

    Free-thought, toleration and liberty are out the window unless you are Christain and republican in most all lodges of the American Blue lodge system.

  5. Inviting both sides of a political debate into a lodge is WRONG and against the Landmarks and foundation of Masonry.

    Flag worship in Amercia has no place in a lodge either.

  6. So far every post is against this. Oh well. I think this is just what we need. Yes we are not allowed to talk about politics in lodge. I have been told that “in lodge”, was when the lodge was open and after the lodge is closed we can talk about anything. More importantly we should talk about these thing, may they be politics or the paving of Main St. Are we as masons not to talk about what could or does affect us. If that is so then there is NO light in masonry and we will stay in the dark.


  7. I bet that during the revolution there was surely no talk of politics in the lodge.

  8. This is more than a simple ethical issue: It is LEGALLY wrong, as the lodges are owned by a non-profit organization and prohibited under federal code from allowing campaigning, political events or outright sponsorship of political activities.

    The abject idiots, profanes and immorals who condoned and facilitated this nonsense put our entire fraternity at risk of losing its non-profit status. There is no quicker way to put the final nail in the coffin of our fraternity than to give its enemies what they need to hammer it in. The only reason this has not happened to many churches that do the same (e.g., Jerry Foulwell's Thomas Road) is because their enemies are not organized like ours are.

    Fraternally yours,
    The Libertarian

  9. Having a public officer holder come for the flag ceremony: fine.

    Allowing that public officer to use that opportunity to campaign: not fine, but hopefully not part of the lodge's plan.

    It might have seemed the best route to hope he would finish quickly, rather than attempt to eject him.

    -Atlanta, GA

  10. You don't invite trouble and you do when you invite a politician or a religious leader when it is strickly forbidden. To allow either to be discussed in a lodge or to have either show up to speak at any function you come across as endorsing them reguardless if you do or not.

  11. we, as masons, are not even allowed to politic for ourselves or a brother who might make an excellent leader, a Grand Master.
    How there is no ability for a masonic group to have REAL, democratic elections for it's leaders?
    Our leaders are appointed to the positions of power and slide up the chain, because when voting takes place, there are not choices for the best candidate, just ONE MAN for each seat, only. NEVER is there a debate or speeches given to PROVE who the best Leader may be.

    NOPE, appointments to the biggest ass kisser and proponent of STATUS QUO.

    Free masonry = free?

  12. Is it just me or is it strange that most of these comments are anonymous.

    One question that is running through my head wether Rep. Jones is a Freemason? And when a brother declares his affiliation as Bro. T Roosevelt did then I believe it is their responsibility to educate the public on his role in Freemasonry and its help in his particular affiliation. Don't we, as Masons, believe that our lessons help to guide decisions in life based on our relative experiences (our plumb line)? Since that is what we do then declaring personal favor to religion or politics should be from the individuals statements and not from Lodges. We should not forget that our structures represent (or are supposed to) order and established principles to the public so when a misuse of the facility leads to disharmony the host lodge should sincerely reflect on their choices.

    As for the monetary donation to the church it does seem to show support but then so does the Cornerstone Laying ceremony many Churches had requested in the past. If we begin to question this then we begin to question what it means to serve and be charitable to the community.

  13. "Is it just me or is it strange that most of these comments are anonymous."

    Everything on the internet is anonymous until you start nailing down where the IP address is. Even then, you can't usually determine exactly who was the one using that computer at that time.

    I, for one, take this issue very seriously. I am sick and tired of having my fellow brothers shove their filthy, backward religions down my throat every meeting with invocations of Jesus Christ and news of what the local Baptist church is doing. Saying something against it would not be conducive to me reminaing a brother.

    Suffice it to say, after reading most of the comments above, we all agree that this mixture of personal religion and politics is not what Masonry should be about and should not be allowed.

    Fraternally yours,
    The Libertarian

  14. They probably invited the guy for sane and dignified reasons that would never violate masonic principle (the guy is a public servant after all, no reason he couldn't show up for a flag ceremony)but you can't have a crowd and a politician and not get a stump speech. That's like having a dog and expecting it to never hump your leg. Just ain't gonna happen. Eventually, you get humped. By the dog, I mean, not the politician. Well, maybe.

  15. Wellll...

    As I look back in the history book of Indiana Masonic lore, I see many occasions when the auditorium of the Indianapolis Masonic Temple was used for political debates and speeches from notable government representatives.

    Our landmarks (and in Indiana we never adopted any, so we don't fret over such things except in an academic sense) forbid political and religious discussion in a tyled lodge. But if the lodge is to truly be a part of the community in which it resides, I frankly see an outstanding role for it to play, as host to differing political opinions and candidates. Why shouldn't the lodge be a place that fosters political debate as a way of engaging its members and the public in taking part in government?

    I'm not in favor of a one-sided situation, where it could be made to look like the lodge is promoting one candidate. But at one time our lodges were the centers of our towns, and they held that position by truly being an active part of the local community. Too many of our lodges sit empty for 29 days of the month. The way to get society to rediscover us is to see Masonry in action, not Masonic inaction. Somehow, the League of Women Voters gets the image of political neutrality and the blessing of the political world as host of national debates. Freemasons could just as easily snatch that mantle.

    Just thinkin'.

    And just because somebody else brought it up first, come on, brethren. Step out from behind the anonymous postings.

  16. BTW, I had a brother last year drop one of the most brilliant ideas in my ear ever. With all of the screaming nationwide that's being done over illegal immigration, why not as Masons turn it on its ear? Have lodges start sponsoring English and citizenship classes, and using our auditoriums as swearing in sites for new citizens? Be seen as active and involved in the community, and taking part in solutions, instead of standing on the sidelines and bitching about a societal problem.

    Frankly, brilliant.

  17. Idiots and Dummies,,,,,,,?????
    Knights of the North????

  18. Idiots and Dummies,,,,,,,?????

    Your point? You know which one I am.
    Like I've been hiding?
    Or Brother Morris, for that matter?

    Knights of the North????

    Again, your point? We came clean on that authorship about 3 years ago when the paper was first presented.

  19. The congressman was not in an open lodge giving the speech. He was at a gathering of cubscouts, masons, and townsfolk which happened to be at a Masonic Lodge.

    I am sure he was not endorsed by ALL the cubscouts, masons, or townsfolk who were present.

    Just because he is a politician does not mean that he waived his freedom of speech.

    Now if the Brethren invited him into lodge for the express purpose of giving the speech, or publicly said that they as an organisation endorsed him then they would have violated the taboo and the law.

    In my opinion...

    Bro. Arthur Peterson

  20. I'd like to know where exactly it says that we cannot talk about Religion or Politics in our Lodges.
    Is that something in the Masonic Code for some Grand Lodges? Which Ancient Landmark exactly and explicitly forbids this?
    If we do not have the courage to discuss the most divisive issues in society with our brothers, in a respectful manner where all of us win by being part of the discussion, then we have no true brotherhood.
    Fear of conflict is un-Masonic. Tolerance for each other's ideas is mature and desireable. We should talk about religion and politics in Lodge BECAUSE they are divisive. Otherwise, all of our platitudes about brotherly love and use of those compasses to circumscribe our passions are worthless hot-air.
    I respect those I learn from. I learn from those who think differently than myself. To deny ourselves the ability to learn from each other simply because we have egg-shell sensitivities and cannot risk being offended is silly.
    Courage, my brothers. If we can't have mature and adult conversations about core issues involving our nation, our neighbors and ourselves, then we are not men...we are simply boys playing fraternity games.
    It's time we end the moratorium on patience, tolerance and listening. It's time Masons grow-up.

  21. I'd like to know where exactly it says that we cannot talk about Religion or Politics in our Lodges.
    Is that something in the Masonic Code for some Grand Lodges? Which Ancient Landmark exactly and explicitly forbids this?

    Ancient Landmark VI:
    "... Therefore no private piques or quarrels must be brought within the door of the lodge, far less any quarrels about religion, or nations, or state policy [...] and are resolved against all politicks, as what never yet conduced to the welfare of the lodge, nor ever will."

    Most US Grand Lodges have some reference to this in their own rules or bylaws.

    Consider that this prohibition is because some - perhaps most - people are less interested in learning about their brother's views, than about getting him to agree with their own.

    When lodge business is finished, and you're downstairs having a cigar and brandy, then by all means, discuss politics and religion. I firmly believe that we learn the principles of Masonry in the lodge room, but we learn to practice them after the meetings.

  22. The masons of the 1700 discussed politics and religion in Lodge on a regular basis. The church and crown were abusing the "commoners" regularly, with no stopping in sight. It was the Freemasons, who from discussing the wrongness of church and state, that led to many revolutions in many different countries and spread the concept of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. That was when the Fraternity made a real difference in the community and in people lives.

    This no politcs and no religion discussion in Lodge was an attempt to neuter the organization that spread equality around the globe.

    Nuetered like a stud dog. Remove its ability to educate and enlighten man in the understanding of tyranny and oppression.
    like the GL system, tyrannical and oppressive because of small minds and the fact that people may talk religin or politics...
    since politics and religion are in such good shape, we do not need to discuss it....
    rigged elections, wars, removal of rights, pope saying catholocism is the only religion, muslims killing muslims, priests raping boys, charging for services rendered, lying to humanity for centuries, etc.....
    yeah, masons have no need to discuss those topics, nothing wrong here.....
    do not masons just want to discuss what famous masons are out there and whats for dinner and make sure no young man tries to change something that we've done for years, etc... blah blah blah

    ever see a dog without testicles hanging down, looks like less of dog= freemasonry today.
    thanks 1813

    the terrible brother


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