Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sound familiar? Episcopalian diocese breaks away from mother church to return to old ways

As above, so below. Or at least, as in the Church, so in Freemasonry.

Volunteer organizations based on metaphysical belief systems have a long and rich history of splitting off from one another when core beliefs among members clash. Martin Luther made breaking away from the mother church trendy when he nailed those theses to a door, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation, taking Christians down the road to centuries of divisiveness. Later, those Protestant churches further divided themselves into Lutherans, Southern Baptists, Anabaptists, Methodists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Calvinists, Congregationalists, Amish, Quakers, and later still, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. By one count, there are over 30,000 various sects and denominations all calling themselves Christians.

I found today's announcement of the California Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin secession from the American Episcopal Church noteworthy because of how similar it is to recent events in American Freemasonry.

The diocese, which consists of 47 congregations, voted to separate from their mother church, and to affiliate with a foreign Anglican province, the conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America, headed by Archbishop Gregory Venables of Argentina. It is estimated that another six or seven major U.S. dioceses will follow suit in the coming months (two others have already held their first vote; a second vote by each diocese is required to secede). These dioceses would together form a new Anglican Diocese of North America.

Thirty-two congregations have already quietly left the Episcopalian fold in the past four years. Another 23 have voted to do so, but haven't taken the final step yet.

Why are these congregations and entire dioceses turning their backs on their mother church? Why are they becoming renegades? Because they see the U.S. Episcopal Church as having betrayed their core Christian beliefs. They believe the Episcopal Church no longer is holding true to their original values and purpose.

Sound familiar?

The presiding bishop and chief pastor of the U.S. Episcopal Church has written to bishops warning them to stop and to be aware of "potential consequences."

Sound familiar?

"The Episcopal Church has said that people can depart, but they must leave their property, which, it contends, is held in trust for the church. The church and loyalist dioceses are already involved in several lawsuits against breakaway congregations that have insisted on keeping their property," the New York Times reported.

Sound familiar?

San Joaquin diocese spokesman Rev. Van McCalister said, "We have leadership in the Episcopal Church that has drastically and radically changed directions. They have pulled the rug out from under us. They've started teaching something very different, something very new and novel, and it's impossible for us to follow a leadership that has so drastically reinvented itself."

Sound familiar?

As an interesting footnote, one article on this subject mentions six historically prominent Episcopalians, three of them founding fathers of the United States (Washington, Franklin, Jefferson), and the other three 20th century presidents (Franklin Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush). Four of those six were also Freemasons.

Image: Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, openly homosexual Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. His appointment as bishop in 2003 is the primary cause of the division within the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Thanks to Burning Taper reader Diogenes for the heads-up on this story.

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  1. I'm Episcopalian too, so I'll weigh in on this one. Another similarity is that the revolt is being caused by (a) the selfishness of Gene Robinson, who believes that keeping his post as Bishop of New Hampshire is more important than the future of his Church and (b) the arrogance of the Episcopal Church's leadership, which condescendingly disregards the Anglican Communion worldwide to insist on having its own way.

  2. Sounds like the Freemasons.

    It's never about addressing the real issues or progress, it's about ego, vanity and pride.

    Eventually the intelligent members just walk away. It's happening right now in Grand Lodge Masonry.

  3. Sounds like the Freemasons.

    It's never about addressing the real issues or progress, it's about ego, vanity and pride.

    Eventually the members with ego, vanity and pride just walk away. It's happening right now in Grand Lodge Masonry.

  4. I see it quite the opposite. It is the ego, vanity and pride of Masons like you that is causing them to walk away.

  5. Words well-considered Nemo. It appears the issue with Halcyon is one where neither side is right and none are willing to take culpability.

  6. "I see it quite the opposite. It is the ego, vanity and pride of Masons like you that is causing them to walk away."

    Obviously, we don't agree as I see it quite the opposite. It was their OWN ego that caused them to walk away. The GL acted with an Ego akin to your own, and the Halcyon brethren with Egos akin to those GL members.

  7. ... Eventually the intelligent members just walk away. It's happening right now in Grand Lodge Masonry.


    How do you know what's going on at the 51 GLs across the country? Or at all the GLs around the World for that matter? How are you privy to that information?

    You're making assumptions off information posted on Blogs. Which someone pointed out to you that most Masons don't even know about.

    Two lodges from different states give up their charters and now Regular Masonry is doomed? Please.

    As of a couple months ago, per GLofNC, there are 17 clandestine grand lodges in the State of NC. Regular Masonry in NC has existed since colonial times, and it will continue to exist.


  8. Why do the Grand Orient Masons never respond to your insults? Why don't they defend themselves?

    I want to hear more of their side of things?

  9. Why do the Grand Orient Masons never respond to your insults? ...

    Because there's only about three people worldwide who claim to be part of GOofUS.

    You opened yourself up for that one :-))

  10. I just wonder where the GL officers are to respond to the insults you've hurled repeatedly at them. Offering objective facts and opinions based on objective facts offered by the G.O. is insulting them. In fact, I've enjoyed conversing with some of them. Others have flung insults, although some were retracted later.

  11. I find this article confusing because it seems 180 degrees different than what freemasons breaking away seem to me to be saying they are doing. The GO of the US seems to me to be a more liberal form of Freemasonry than US Freemasonry, not more conservative. After all the GO of France admits atheists and doesn't always have a Bible on this altar. But, what the diocese breaking away from the Episcopal Church is advocating is a more conservative less progressive view of the church than the church at large. The only similarity I see is in the choice to break away.

    Christians with more conservative theology are also often anti-Masonic. Are you sure this is a church group you want to use an example???

  12. May I recommend that we all stop fighting and start singing? I know that sounds silly but sometimes a song can change things in so many ways.

    Try listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony, movement 4 (Presto; Allegro assai), and then sing along...

    Joy, thou source of light immortal,
    Daughter of Elysium!
    Touched with fire, to the portal,
    Of thy radiant shrine, we come.
    Your sweet magic, frees all others,
    Held in custom's rigid rings,
    Men throughout the world are brothers,
    In the haven of thy wings.

    Howard Roark
    A Brother to All

  13. "As of a couple months ago, per GLofNC, there are 17 clandestine grand lodges in the State of NC. Regular Masonry in NC has existed since colonial times, and it will continue to exist."

    I hope the GL o NC is considered that for adhereing to racist policies?

  14. 2 Bowl Cain:

    And I guess you will agree that the NC Prince Hall Grand Lodge should be consider clandestine for wanting recognition without visitation.

    That's right, PHA of NC wants recognition from our GL, but doesn't want us to sit in their lodges. I guess they're racists too.

  15. Bro. Bonney,

    You being a Christian minister may be coloring your ability to understand the comparison, making you want to look at (and perhaps judge) the specific issues, not the overall concept. I'm talking here about the forest; perhaps you're looking at the trees.

    I purposely did not mention in the article the specifics of the breakaway of some congregations and dioceses, because the specifics aren't the point of the comparison.

    The breakaways, both Masonic and Episcopalian, believe that their mother organizations have strayed from the original course set for them by the founders of those groups. The breakaways see themselves as wanting to return to those roots.

    According to GOUSA'ers, the current mainstream American grand lodge Masonry does not reflect the ideals and goals of the original Masonic order. Likewise, the Diocese of San Joaquin believes that the American Episcopal Church has strayed from their original Bible-based theology.

    — W.S.

  16. Thank you for that clarification Brother WS. Maybe that is what I was doing. In the ECUSA I see a conservative group breaking off from a liberal group and in Freemasonry I see a more liberal group breaking way from a more conservative group. Thus the confusion for me in the comparison.

    And, I'll confess, as a liberal Protestant Minister I'm not all that sympathetic with the goals of those breaking away in the ECUSA. Nor as a Mason am I particularly sympathetic to Freemasonry breaking apart over differences.

    I appreciate your clarification.

  17. Metatron do you belong to the Grand Lodge of Troglodytes?

  18. 2 Bowl Cain:

    Why don't you answer the question instead of deflecting and changing the subject.

  19. who r u to demand an answer from me?
    a member of a racist GL!
    I cannot have discourse with racists!
    Thanks for your concern though metatron

  20. 2 Bowl Cain:

    Oh, you won't answer a simple question, but its okay for you to call me a cave man, and now a racist.

    Can you even define racism?

    No reply needed

    2 Bowl Cain: The First Known Artificer, or Cunning Worker, in B.S.


  21. It's interesting to watch how Masons viciously attack one another. I can only imagine how they act in lodge! They're like pit bulls ripping each other to pieces.

  22. Look Michael Vick (Objective), no one is tearing anyone apart. Stop with the melodramatic play-by-play.

    Mr. 2 Bowl Cain wants to call NC Masons, or at the very least our GL officers, a bunch of racists.

    My question to him is: If Regular Masons are racist for not recognizing PHA; should PHA Masons be considered racist for opposing visitation to their lodges?

    He won’t answer that, he wants to deflect the question with name calling. If he didn’t expect someone to call him on his statement, then he should have kept it to himself.


  23. Just because Prince Hall Masons in NC are racists doesn't justify the fact that Grand Lodge Masons are racists too.

    He was ultimately right on the issue.

  24. Objective:

    I don't believe all PHA and all Regular Masons are racist. I can not look into the heart of all ~60,000 of them—only the GAOTU is capable of that. However, I would wager that there are bigots in both institutions.

    Using your logic, and his, would mean that every GL in the country, and every Master Mason in their jurisdictions, were racists until 1989 or until their GL recognized PHA.

    BTW, should I consider your handle “Objective” an adjective or a noun? You don’t seem impartial or neutral, but if your goal is to be a pest you have succeeded.

    No reply needed.


  25. Some appear to have it that all 41 GLs in this country that do recognize PHA, and all recognized lodges outside of this country, across the world, are guilty by association with a small handful of lodges in the Southern Jurisdiction, are racist. Despite amazing strides to recognize PHA, some are willing to forget that and tear down the great progress made. It's sad to see the irrationality in this. Evolution is better and kinder than revolution, and regular Masonry IS evolving-just not to the likings of some.

  26. Dear Bro. Anagram and all brothers,

    The idea that there is a "revolution" taking place is erroneous. The Grand Orient of France has existed for centuries. They were started by the Grand Lodge of London in the 1730's. What we are witnessing is a revival of the Masonic philosophy of the original Moderns of 1717.

    Some Masons have discovered that they agree with this philosophy more than that of the present system. It's hardly a revolution. It's more a change of affiliation due to philosophical issues.

    I believe that many Masons are having a difficult time distinguishing between all of the events that have taken place. Halcyon's departure has nothing to do with the Grand Orient.

    The new Grand Orient of the USA has a different perspective of Freemasonry. Our Masonic philosophy is the same as the Grand Orient of France. We are not the enemy of the Grand Lodges or other Masons.

    The people posting on this blog don't seem to understand the differences between the the Grand Orient and the Grand Lodges. I would like to rectify this situation, if I am not first shouted down.

    We believe in the absolute freedom of conscience of all human beings, and in the separation of church and state. We do not require a belief in deity to be a Freemason because this would violate the individual's right to absolute freedom of conscience.

    Our lodges are free to choose the ritual they will use. We have many available to choose from. This freedom is also closely associated with the concept of absolute freedom of conscience.

    We place an emphasis on educating one another in Masonry and many other subjects. It is our belief that knowledge and understanding leads to tolerance, which in turn, leads to universal peace and harmony.

    It’s important that everyone understand that there are significant differences between the GOUSA and its predecessor the UGLA. The original founders are now a minority. While they had many good ideas, their implementation of them was not equal to their intentions. There was simply too much built-up anger against the Grand Lodges.

    The GOUSA has no antipathy for the state Grand Lodges. We disagree with their philosophy and about the meaning and purpose of Freemasonry. We are not claiming that they are wrong or that we are right, only that we agree to disagree.

    In the future there will be many opportunities where we can all work together, especially regarding Masonic research and education. While we do not desire recognition and intend to remain separate Masonically, we do believe that mutual respect and consideration between our organizations is an essential element of the future success of both. In relation to this we would like for everyone (on both sides) to step down and cease the name calling and bickering. It is un-brotherly and un-Masonic.

    You are welcome to visit our lodges with the written permission of your respective Grand Masters. Everyone is welcome to social and educational events. We are all Masons and all brothers in humanity. Let us try to seek out those things that we share in common and learn not to fear and hate one another over our differences.

    So mote it be.

  27. "While we do not desire recognition and intend to remain separate Masonically, we do believe that mutual respect and consideration between our organizations is an essential element of the future success of both."

    This is exactly what I would like to see. In some opinions, this is a revolution. In mine, it's a repeat of a long history. We don't have to sit in lodge together to work together. I look forward to this new era of cooperation. We don't have to agree on religion, politics, or anything to work toward improving things.

  28. Howard,

    A couple questions for you:

    "We do not require a belief in deity to be a Freemason because this would violate the individual's right to absolute freedom of conscience."

    So the GOUSA tells the lodges that the MUST accept atheists? Doesn't this go against the independence that you claim to give you lodges?

    "You are welcome to visit our lodges with the written permission of your respective Grand Masters."

    Why do you require the written permission of the GM? I can't see the GL of MI's GM taking the time to write a note to the Master of ANY lodge saying that a specific Mason has permission to visit, weather of not the lodge is recognized. And again, isn't this something that ought to be left in the lodges hands?
    Doesn't it also violate the individual's freedom of conscious? I mean, if I want to visit your lodge but my GM doesn't approve, why should you care that he doesn't approve?


  29. Tony,

    Questions regarding religion and/or deity are never asked of the candidate. What they believe is entirely up to them, and not the business of the lodge. The lodges agree to absolute freedom of conscience as a part of receiving their Charter. If they wish to discriminate based on religious beliefs then they can seek a Charter from another Masonic body.

    The GOUSA has no requirement for a letter from a state Grand Lodge for visitation, but if the brother wishes to visit and remain a part of his present lodge then it would be required by his Grand Lodge. I said this out of respect for those brothers who do not share the same freedoms that we have. It would be most unfortunate if one of them were expelled by their Grand Lodge due to a misunderstanding.

  30. If the lodges are sovereign and are free, than shouldn't they be able to work to the GAOTU OR the Glory of Universal Freemasonry? If the can work to the glory of the GAOTU, shouldn't they be allowed to admit only those who believe in the GAOTU?

    I was under the impression that the point of the GOUSA was to transfer the sovereignty back to the lodges...

  31. Tony,

    The lodges can work to the GAOTU or Universal Freemasonry, but it cannot create a condition for membership based on religion/deity. From the perspective of the GOUSA Freemasonry is not a religion but a secular order.

    GOUSA lodges can choose any or all VSLs, and/or The White Book and/or Anderson's Constitutions. They can offer prayers to the GAOTU. They can work the rituals of their choice. They cannot, however, discriminate on the basis of religion/deity.

    Every potential candidate and member is afforded absolute freedom of conscience.

    The GOUSA has been established to protect the rights of the brethren under our Constitutions and By-Laws. Absolute freedom of conscience is guaranteed by Masonic law under the GOUSA.

    I recommend that you read through our web site to get a better understanding of what we mean by "absolute freedom of conscience" and laicite.

    I hope I have done a good job answering your questions. It is our hope to explain everything as clearly as possible so that no one is confused.

  32. I do have absolute Freedom of Conscience as a regular member. I took my oaths of my own free will and accord, and continue to stand by them of my own free will and accord with my Freedom of Conscience fully emploed.

    The GL does NOT define what an 'atheist' is. The individual who considers themselves an atheist does that. It does not mean I can't work with an atheist. What about sitting in lodge with an underage individual, or a madman, or a fool? Are they excluded? What if the 'freedom of conscience' finds this ridiculous? It's not an attack, and not an intentional affront, but this is one of the biggest questions about the G.O. for me. I do NOT think it's right to allow Hitler or Pol Pot to join, for example. They do NOT represent Masonry at ALL, and should be barred.

  33. Pol Pot and Adolph Hitler are dead. While I don't think there are any Masonic restrictions on raising dead men, I doubt they'll be able to sign their petitions in their own handwriting.

    — W.S.

  34. Thanks for the facetious answer. Apparently, the G.O. doesn't expell dead men. That's about as straight an answer as I've gotten so far. Let's presuppose someone living is as unjust and cruel as Pol Pot or Hitler, has joined the G.O. without their knowledge, and is revealed as a murderer of thousands. They ARE alive and the ARE members of the G.O. Hypothetically, does the individual's 'freedom of conscience' preclude his being removed or not?

  35. Bro:. Howard,
    I have to take issue with that stance. I believe that there are some atheist who ought to be allowed to become Masons and that there are some who ought not. Just like there are some Christians who ought to be allowed to become Masons and some who ought not. Not because the believe or don't believe, but because of how they came to and how they handle that belief. Therefore, I think that it is imperative that the lodge be able to ask questions about what a candidate believes and why if they so chose.
    Am I understanding you correctly? Are you saying that they lodge cannot brooch that subject with a candidate or face some sort of punishment from the GOUSA?

  36. Brother AA, I'm not a member of the GOUSA, nor do I suppose I'll ever be, but I am a great admirer of the GOdF. You should really take a look at their website and find out what 'absolute freedom of conscience' means in context. It does not mean 'whatever the hell you feel like doing.'

  37. Tony, I understand your point. I think the object is (or should be) to thoroughly vet any proposed candidate for his overall suitability for membership, which we should be doing in any case. (Please read all of this in a gender-inclusive sense, where applicable.) This may involve discussing matters of spiritual or religious nature with him, but this should be done in a way that it does not become some religious litmus test. This requires a great deal of responsibility on the part of those who would be questioning that proposed candidate.

    A similar matter, though not identical, is the way in which I try to deal with the right of the candidate to select the VSL appropriate to his own faith. We (speaking of the mainstream) must ask whether he professes faith in a supreme being, but must not question him as to the name by which he recognizes, or the manner (religion) in which he worships, that being. So, what I do is to simply wait until after his election to receive the degrees to ask which is his preferred VSL.

    I don't know of this helps any, but my point is that surely a way can be found to get to know a proposed candidate fully, without making his religion, or lack thereof, a condition of membership.

  38. Thank you brother Naylor. That's essentially what I understood to be what is meant by 'freedom of conscience'. I've read this site before as well.

    It still does not answer the paradox that freedom of conscience offers.


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