Claims Adjustment

June 16, 2017 2 comments

Anyone who has been paying to US political news for the last year or so knows that 2016 was a particularly divisive national election year, and that 2017 has been pretty much one “crisis” after another, as Republicans battle Democrats, and Trump supporters battle “Never Trump” activists.

I’ll admit to having done a bit of troll baiting over the last year, mainly because, well, I’m a 15 year old teenager trapped in a grown man’s body. Despite that, however, my Facebook friends list has stayed fairly steady. I’ve been blocked or unfriended by a few family and friends, but for the most part, the people that I’ve gotten to know – online and off – as fellow Freemasons have managed to keep their conversations level; they have been all over the political spectrum, but our disagreements have not been enough to have them drop me as a friend, nor I them.

Until this week.

The shooting of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise earlier this week should have elicited sympathy, if not outrage. At the very least, one would have thought that the more enlightened people would have abided by the rule “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” That’s why I was not just surprised, but saddened at the comments of one of my friends who wrote, in essence, that Scalise deserved what he had gotten, that it was re-payment for his being a Tea Party supporter, and then added something about karma and female dogs.

The comment was not part of a conversation in which I was involved; I just blocked and later, deleted him from my friend list.

Oh sure, we’ve all had our moments of righteous anger. I can think of any number of times that I’ve read about some thug holding up a store, getting shot in the process, and thinking “Oh, good, maybe that’ll teach him a lesson.” But Scalise was not a thug; in fact, I had no idea who the guy was until I’d read the news, which indicates to me that he probably wasn’t an especially bad person. I’m guessing that for a lot of other people this was also the case.

“Okay, Tom,” you’re saying to yourself about now, “if I wanted to read about politics, I’d be on Facebook. How is this related to Freemasonry?”

Some US states have a piece at the closing of lodge (sometimes called the Closing Charge), that is sadly absent in Connecticut (and apparently elsewhere), but which I’ve run across, and I think it’s a moving bit of ceremony. A typical version runs like this:

Brethren: You are now to quit this sacred retreat of friendship and virtue, to mix again with the world. Amidst its concerns and employments, forget not the duties you have heard so frequently inculcated and forcibly recommended in this Lodge. Be diligent, prudent, temperate, discreet. Remember that around this altar you have promised to befriend and relieve every worthy Brother who shall need your assistance. Remember that you have promised to remind him, in the most tender manner, of his failings, and aid his reformation. These generous principles are to extend further. Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Recommend it more especially to the household of the faithful. Finally, Brethren, be ye all of one mind; live in peace; and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you.

I don’t know what made that pop into my head at some point yesterday, but there’s a part in there that I believe gets overlooked far too often:

These generous principles are to extend further. Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Recommend it more especially to the household of the faithful.

That is, we have an obligation to be tolerant, if not downright charitable to everyone, regardless of political outlook. Maybe some of us need to be reminded of that not just in and around our lodge, but also whenever we log into our social media.

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I, for one, welcome our new Masonic Media overlords.

April 1, 2017 1 comment

Many of you have already heard about this, but I figured it’s worth mentioning anyway: Most of the older blogs by Freemasons have been bought up by the growing internet news outlet, Masonic Newswire Media. You may not have heard of them, but you’ve probably heard of their more “public face” online news site, The Past Bastard.

Sometime in the middle of 2016, when the rest of us were too busy arguing over the US elections on Facebook, The Past Bastard — or rather, their parent company — quietly began making offers to buy up those older blogs. Many of those blogs were started between 2005 and 2010, and have been long since defunct, or not updated in several years. Those sold quickly, with the authors taking the quick $100 in Google Credits being offered; the agreement being that the authors will no longer re-open those blogs to publish anything.

The more active blogs, though, have also been slowly falling to the new publishing company; instead of buying those blogs outright (not that there are many actively writing anymore), the authors will be paid by the article, which would first need to pass vetting by The Past Bastard (or rather, their Masonic Newswire Media editors).

What does this mean for you, the readers?

In my opinion, very little will change. Even the more “active” blogs (for example: The Millennial FreemasonArs LatomorumOne Minute Mason) rarely publish more than a few times a year. Other bloggers tend to post less consequential fluff pieces (such as: All Things Masonic, Freemason Information, Midnight Freemasons). My guess is that very little will change in terms of frequency or content, and that goes also for my own little blog, which I suspect was purchased only for the name recognition.

So. Those being the facts at hand, let’s get on to the juicier stuff.

Rumors on the various internet boards are suggesting that Chris Hodapp’s Freemasons for Dummies is going to sell out as well, which is a little sad because Chris is the only other “masonic news blog” of any real note; I’m concerned that we are going to be in a situation in which all the Masonic news will be controlled by a small group of media specialists who would have little competition, and who would be able to spin Masonic news their way.

The question that I haven’t heard many people asking, though, has to do with the identity of The Past Bastard, and more importantly, the Masonic Newsire Media. Personally, I had long suspected that The Past Bastard was the work of the After Lodge Podcast guys, although it has recently come to light that at least several of  The Past Bastard writers are based in California. This makes sense, because in my opinion, only people from California would imagine that old blogs are worth anything. Also, who else would have the desire to build up a new media syndicate? Computer and social media guys, that’s who.

Which  brings up another question: Who is behind the Masonic Newswire Media? When I first heard about it, I figured The Onion, or Gawker, or some other online news system was just buying things up without understanding what they were getting into. But the more I think about it, I’m beginning to believe that the backers are one (or maybe several) of the larger Grand Lodges in the US. Who else would have the motivation (not to mention the finances) to control Masonic news? It’s certainly not for the advertising, as Freemasons are notoriously tight-fisted, unless it comes to scotch. Or cigars. Or rings. Or bling. Or a lot of things, with the exception of their dues.

So, that leaves us with a shadowy group of Freemasons who are trying to control the media. Is it a Grand Lodge (or more likely, a cabal of Grand Lodges), hoping to acquire enough control over the craft to sway their opinions on something? The running jokes (at least, we think that they were jokes) are that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas (which took down their own website for some time), is behind the push to control the remaining Masonic bloggers to keep any public criticisms off the internet. However, that could easily apply to a number of other Grand Lodges, some of which have published some very restrictive web and social media guidelines.

Is a group of Grand Lodges, trying to subtly push an agenda? I don’t know. All I know is that at the moment, I’m happy to take my Google Credits and start filling up my Android with some tunes from one of my favorite groups.


Published by The Tao of Masonry – A Masonic Newswire Media blog

 

Uncivil Unrest

January 23, 2017 7 comments

II. Of the CIVIL MAGISTRATES supreme and subordinate.

A Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concern’d in Plots and Conspiracies against the Peace and Welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutifully to inferior Magistrates; for as Masonry hath been always injured by War, Bloodshed, and Confusion, so ancient Kings and Princes have been much dispos’d to encourage the Craftsmen, because of their Peaceableness and Loyalty, whereby they practically answer’d the Cavils of their Adversaries, and promoted the Honour of the Fraternity, who ever flourish’d in Times of Peace. So that if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State he is not to be countenanc’d in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy Man; and, if convicted of no other Crime though the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible.


Freemasons in the US, at least, those not living in caves, can’t help but be aware that the recent US Presidential elections (and the equally important, although lesser discussed senatorial and representative elections) has been the most hotly contested race – and the most surprising upset –  probably since Ronald Reagan.

For reasons which I’m not inclined to discuss here, the election upset was so unexpected that the concern and complaints about it have gone on long after election day, and even after our new President was installed… err, inaugurated. Indeed, Facebook and Twitter seem to be talking about little else lately; even posts about bacon seem to be less frequent.

There is a time-honored tradition of not discussing religion or politics inside a Masonic lodge. Ostensibly to help maintain the harmony of the membership, some Freemasons mistakenly interpret this as neither subject is to be discussed at all, or as that neither subject should be discussed in any Masonic forum (either an online forum or a group at the local pub). Historically, however, it is probably the case that early lodges, not wishing to be seen as a society that might harbor traitors to the Crown or the Church, banned such discussions to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The tradition was strong enough in the early 1700s, however, to motivate Anderson to include it in his Constitutions.

I’m not surprised to see Freemasons on both sides of the election disagreement (4 sides of you include the Libertarian and Green party candidates), and frankly, given the nature of the contest, I’m not surprised to see many of them speaking out so vocally online. I am, however, a little disappointed to see some of them attacking each other, instead of limiting their arguments to attacking the candidates or their positions, characteristics, and perceived shortcomings.

While I’m all for keeping religious and political discussion out of the lodge meetings themselves (although it might liven up a few lodges after listening to the drone of the minutes), I’d argue that to keep Masons from talking about those topics with each other would be unnatural. Can you imagine the discussions that must have taken place around taverns and dinner tables in mid-1700s America? It’s conceivable that the American Revolution might not have taken place if the men – the Freemasons – of that time had interpreted the tradition the same way that so many of us do now.

Yet, despite my assertion that political discussion after the meeting (or online) is part of human nature, I’m still disappointed in how I see many of my fellow Masons going about it. Recent brain scan MRI studies have shown that political and religious thinking show up in the same areas as self-identification, meaning that our political philosophies are an intrinsic part of who we are as a person. Attacking and insulting each other is certainly not going to change anyone’s mind; if anything, human nature will just make that person dig in and more self-protective.

To be sure, some people can keep it light. Others have learned how to discuss seriously, but without rancor. It’s possible, really. But if your own argument is reduced to calling someone — whether a friend or a complete stranger — an insulting name, then maybe it’s time that you re-examine your own beliefs.  Or better yet, turn off your phone or computer and go get some fresh air.

Darkness Falls

June 24, 2016 2 comments

This being St. John’s Day, I thought it appropriate to mention a few things.

First, this is typically the time that lodges in the Northeast US “go dark” for the summer. Now, there’s some disagreement on whether the expression “to go dark” should be used in this case, since the lodges will reopen for business in a few months. Some old-timers associate the expression to mean that a lodge turns in their charter and closes for good. If the lodge still has a charter and officers, then there’s some “light” available, and the lodge can not be totally dark. That said, I’ve noticed that the expression is so widely used, that even if it may be wrong, it’s not going to make a difference because everybody will be using it anyhow. You know, similar to the expression “I could care less;” it’s obviously wrong, but the usage is so widespread that nobody even thinks about it anymore.

Irregardless*, many of my friends in other parts of the US and UK have asked why we close at all during the summer. I’ve been told (although without any substantiating evidence) that it was the farmers needed the time off to tend their fields. Now, I grew up in rural parts of Connecticut, and while I claim no experience or expertise in this subject, I’m beginning to question if indeed, the farmers actually needed this time. As I drive past fields and pastures, I don’t see very much activity going on in July and August. In fact, the few local farm stores I pass are either closed or selling produce that obviously didn’t come from their fields. Do the crops need tending? Of course they do, but is there anything more labor intensive that happens during the hot months?For that matter, a quick perusal of the area Grange chapters seems to show that they are open during the summer. You’d think that if the professional farmers could manage to till the weeds (or whatever it is that they do) and get to a monthly Grange meeting, then the suburban Freemasons could manage a night off.

Hopefully some more agriculturally educated brothers can enlighten us.

It’s interesting to note that historians are also not in agreement on when the longer summer vacation for schoolchildren started. Again, while we are told that it was to help with the farming, historians of the Colonial period in the US tell us otherwise. tmtlampoonsvacation2

My own theory on this is that most lodges in the Northeast US were formed after the Industrial Revolution, and in the days before air conditioning and wine coolers, most of the members simply didn’t want to bother scheduling meetings when the children were out of school. Family trips, beach days, and other vacation days simply made it too difficult to get all of the members at a meeting; better to just not have them for a couple of months, and pick things up in September.

Something else of note is that this marks the week that The Tao of Masonry web log was first published in 2006. Initially started as a way to track events and keep people informed during my year as Master of Friendship Lodge No. 33, I turned it into a public sideshow for my ego collection of my thoughts on Freemasonry. The early to mid-2000s was probably the Golden Age of blogging, and I’ve listed several hundred blogs by Masons either on the blogroll or on my RSS feeds. While blogging is still a thing (as evidenced by the number of excellent bloggers listed on the Ashlars to Ashes aggregate), it’s also a little sad that most of those blogs from the early years have “gone dark” themselves. I think that  the Dummy Chris Hodapp, and Millennial Nick Johnson may be the only other Golden Age bloggers still regularly writing.

Since it’s my 10th bloggiversary year, I’m including some links to a couple of old posts from that time. And enjoy your summer, whether it’s light or dark.

Not a dry eye in the house.

Masonspotting: You’re doing it wrong.

WWHD?

But what was Plan A?

Cui Bono?

Who’s in charge, anyway?

 

* Irregardless. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.

Do you even lift, bro?

April 1, 2016 1 comment

There was a period about six or seven years ago in which I cut back on attending lodge and Masonic events to focus on my business and health; you know, those “usual vocations” that they talk about in the lecture things that we hear once in a while. During that time, through the Scylla and Charybdis of diet and exercise, I managed to lose close to forty pounds of body weight. When I resurfaced at a few events, a number of well-meaning brothers took me aside and asked if I was “alright” or “had “been sick.”  The intimations over that time was that most of us don’t lose a lot of weight in middle age unless it’s involuntary — poor health, cancer, chemotherapy, or side effects of various medications will often take a toll in that manner.

Over the next couple of years, though, the questions and concerns were replaced by remarks of congratulations (and sometimes surprise) for having kept off the weight. Of course, some of those remarks were also followed by warnings that it would probably come back, and then some. “Yeah, I did that [Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean, Grapefruit, Paleo, etc.] diet last year. I lost twenty pounds, but I gained back thirty pounds six months later.”  And sometimes, after having seen some of my blog or Facebook posts about some bike ride, brothers might respond that they found most exercise to be boring, or that they too often hurt themselves while lifting, running, cycling, or walking.

Brothers, I totally understand. Dieting, which is already difficult with the easy access to all sorts of delicious foods, is made more difficult by those dinners at lodge — not to mention the desserts after the meetings. Cake, pastries, and cookies are staples at my own lodge, and probably at yours, too. And the apres-loge snifter of brandy (or bottle of stout, or glass of scotch) certainly are not low-calorie treats. Let’s face it: losing weight, especially as we’ve gotten older and our metabolism has slowed down, is difficult.

But it’s not impossible.

Recognizing that many of my brother Masons have had a difficult time researching, planning, organizing, and ultimately adhering to a diet and exercise program, over the past year I’ve dropped pretty much all other Masonic activities in order to become, what I believe, is the first Freemason Fitness Coach.

To that end, I have opened the first Freemason Fitness Training Gym, offering personal coaching services in dieting and weight loss. My program is tailored toward busy Freemasons who are often out several nights a week, and who don’t “have enough time to exercise.”

My brothers, maintenance is boring and expensive. But it’s not nearly as time consuming and expensive as repair or replacement.

 

Come on — let’s get with the program!

Freemason Fitness

The pot calling the kettle black: Part 3

March 25, 2016 8 comments

Note: This is the third of a three-part article from a brother who wishes to remain anonymous. The online discussions of the past few weeks prompted him to write about his experiences, and what he would do if it were in his power to promote changes.

I saw some of his writing elsewhere, and asked if I could use some of his ideas; he responded by filling in some details and presenting what you see here. While I don’t necessarily agree with him on all points, he does make an interesting case for why Grand Lodges should remove recognition from those states that do not practice what the membership believes to be the higher ideals of our society. I’m presenting this as some food for thought.

Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here

 

The chief argument that I have made in the preceding parts of this article is that racism and homophobia are not limited to the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Tennessee. Instead, I am of the opinion that racism and homophobia are present throughout the Craft and must be addressed with comprehensive and meaningful solutions provided by the various Grand Lodges.

This article originated due to the fact that there have been several posts on social media sites applauding the letters condemning the policies against homosexuals and African Americans in Georgia and Tennessee. While these letters represent a step in the right direction, they carry very little weight in terms of their ability to effect change within the fraternity. The position more or less taken by a few Grand Lodges largely amounts to, “While we condemn the actions of the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Tennessee, they are entitled to their opinion, but in our jurisdiction we welcome homosexual Brethren.”

To that I reply, “Awesome, but what about Brother Clark and his husband? They will not be permitted to visit your Lodges anytime soon because they were wrongly expelled from the fraternity.”

Furthermore, I would reply, “Tremendous! Surely, however, there is another homosexual Brother in Georgia or Tennessee who will have to conceal their life from a Brother for fear of prosecution and persecution. When they are charged and this whole process repeats itself in the eyes of the public how is the Craft going to look then? Are we going to have our spokesman Brother Chris Hodapp rush to our aid to grant more interviews in which he says, ‘Well, the decision is up to the Grand Lodge, but this type of behavior is considered repugnant by the vast majority of Freemasons?’”

Moreover, I would reply, “Excellent. Now, what exactly will happen when another Grand Lodge decides to follow the example of Georgia and Tennessee because they know that the only consequence is a stern letter from three Grand Lodges and the Scottish Rite? More stern letters?” If that happens, heaven forbid, then we are going to have a lot more to worry about than a black eye.

If you do not think the damage has been done in the fraternity, I can point to a 38 year old Past Master in Georgia who is demitting because of the action his Grand Lodge took. I can point to a number of worthy candidates who will never file a petition because our reputation has been tarnished. I can also point to a more recent situation where I visited a Lodge and an Entered Apprentice refused to go forward with his work because of what happened. Brethren, this is not a Georgia problem, this is not a Tennessee problem, this is a problem that will have ramifications across the Masonic world and the best that we have come up with is, “Well, the Grand Lodges have the authority to make those decisions, we cannot question that authority, but we can assure you that our Grand Lodge will not make a similar decision.”

Spare me. Spare us. Our fraternity is far better than that and we should expect more from it.

In fact, I am going to propose a far more meaningful and comprehensive response to what has occurred than what our Grand Lodges have offered. My response is one that makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that there will be consequences if a Grand Lodge or any other Masonic body for that matter decides to engage in racism, prejudice, or homophobia. Brethren, the truth of the matter is that actions speak louder than words and the time has come to take action.

With that said, here is what I would have done if I were the Right Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania.

  1. Issue an edict reforming the Masonic judicial process.

As I mentioned in the last part of this article , there are barriers that prevent Freemasons from being able to address the issue of unmasonic conduct. As the Right Worshipful Grand Master, I would eliminate those barriers in multiple ways.

First and foremost, all black balls would be able to be appealed to a panel of three District Deputy Grand Masters anonymously if there were suspicions as to why they were cast. The appeal would require the showing of cause as to why an individual believed that a black ball was unfairly cast. Upon receiving the appeal, a District Deputy would inform the Worshipful Master of it and give them 30 days to make their case. Abstract explanations as to why a vote was cast will not be sufficient. Instead, there must be a valid reason such as a criminal record or other hard proof that the person is unfit to join the fraternity. The District Deputies would then investigate the claims and if well founded would uphold the vote and the petitioner would be rejected. If, on the other hand, there is no evidence to support the casting of a black ball, then the District Deputies would have the power and authority to overturn the vote of the Blue Lodge, expunge the record of the vote, and order that the petitioner be initiated by a simple majority vote of the three. Furthermore, the petitioner would be given the status of Candidate at Large and have the option of pursuing membership at another Lodge. If the candidate chose to do so, then the Blue Lodge that they petitioned would have to turn over the initiation fee to the petitioner’s Lodge of choice and it would be credited toward their initiation fee and dues.

Second, ANY member would be permitted to bring charges against ANY other Lodge or member anonymously on the basis of racial, prejudicial, or homophobic conduct. The charges would be filed with the District Deputy who may assign any member of his district to visit the Lodge and investigate the claims. If the claims are verified, then the District Deputy will either have the power to bring charges against the individual or the entire Lodge depending on the nature of the infraction. If racism, prejudice, or homophobia is found to be systemic within the Lodge and the Lodge is convicted, the District Deputy Grand Master under the authority of the Right Worshipful Grand Master would have the power to confiscate the Charter of the Lodge. Furthermore, every member that participated in such conduct would be subject to expulsion from the fraternity upon conviction.

Third, in terms of discovery, the District Deputy would have to produce the statements made by the anonymous Brother and his investigator. The Lodge and member would reserve the right to serve interrogatories through the District Deputy in order to confront their accuser. The accuser must respond to the interrogatories within 30 days and they must be served upon the Defendant.

Fourth, all decisions made by the District Deputies may be appealed to the Right Worshipful Grand Master.

  1. Grand Lodges that engage in homophobic or racist conduct will no longer have fraternal ties with the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania

As the Right Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania, it is not enough for me to write a letter condemning racist, prejudicial, or homophobic conduct. Instead, I have a duty and a responsibility to lead by example within the Masonic world.

The first thing that I would do is issue an edict prohibiting Masons from the Grand Lodge of Georgia and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee from visiting Blue Lodges under my jurisdiction effective immediately based on the decisions made by their Lodges that reflect poorly on the Craft.

Next, I would propose that the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania sever fraternal ties with the Grand Lodge of Georgia and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee until the edicts are reversed, until they pass legislation that bringing charges of unmasonic conduct on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientation are strictly prohibited, publicly disavow their current position, expunge and dismiss any and all cases that have been brought against any Brethren on the basis of race, sexual orientation, or religious belief, and reinstate the Brethren that have been expelled and grant them life membership.

  1. Proposing to bring back the Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging and issuing an edict waiving residency requirements for Brethren who have been the victims of racial, homophobic, and religious policies, and declaring any and all decisions rendered against those Brethren by their respective Grand Lodges void and unenforceable within my jurisdiction.

One of the peculiarities of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania is that the full title of the Grand Lodge is The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons in Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging. While the official title of the Grand Lodge is a mouthful, many people wonder what Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging means.

Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging means that Lodges affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania extended beyond its borders at one point in history. In fact, the Grand Lodge had chartered Lodges in the Dominican Republic, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina, and most notably for our present purposes Georgia. In fact, the website for the Grand Lodge of Georgia notes that a Lodge known as Hiram Lodge #42 was Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on the basis that they disapproved of the work being done by Solomon’s Lodge #1 in Savannah.

Furthermore, one of the unique things about the Right Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania is that he can unilaterally issue edicts without putting them to a vote and his edict is absolute. In a book titled The Exemplar, Right Worshipful Past Grand Master Carpenter states, “It may be of great interest for Pennsylvania Freemasons to know that the inherent powers of the Right Worshipful Grand Master are unequaled throughout the Masonic World. There is no appeal of the decisions or actions of the Right Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania. It has been stated many times that his power is frightening.”

Given the power that I would have as Right Worshipful Grand Master and historic precedent, I would propose that we bring back the tradition of the Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging. If the vote were approved at a meeting of the Grand Lodge, then I would immediately issue an edict stating that any Blue Lodge in Georgia or Tennessee that disagreed with the edicts of the Grand Lodge of Georgia or Tennessee could surrender their charter to me and would immediately be granted a new Charter under the jurisdiction of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania provided that they adopted legislation that bringing charges of unmasonic conduct on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientation are strictly prohibited, publicly disavow their current position, expunge and dismiss any and all cases that have been brought against any Brethren on the basis of race, sexual orientation, or religious belief and would be entitled to keep their ritual and customs which are distinct from those in Pennsylvania. Alternatively, if they did not wish to be affiliated with the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and wished to form an independent Grand Lodges, then their Grand Lodges would be immediately recognized by the Grand Lodge upon declaring their existence and would receive whatever aid was necessary from the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in order to form provided that similar legislation was passed at the inception of the new Grand Lodges.

Furthermore, I would use my power of making a Mason at Sight to admit any Brother who was a victim of racial, homophobic, or religious misconduct leading to their expulsion, their records would be immediately cleared, the residency requirement to join the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania would be waived, and they would be permitted to join effective immediately free of charge and until their Grand Lodges removed the obstacles to their membership and rescinded their policies.

Conclusion

As one can see, my policies are very broad and truly make a statement that racism, homophobia, and prejudice will not be tolerated by the Craft. On a local level, I provide the mechanisms necessary in order for investigations to occur, charges to be brought, and the barriers to be broken down that prevent unmasonic conduct from being reported. On the Grand Lodge level, I would use the power vested in me to give other Grand Lodges the courage to stand up to the policies of the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Tennessee while aiding and assisting Brethren who were victims of those policies.

Under my edicts, my Grand Lodge would not issue a letter simply condemning racism and prejudice. My Grand Lodge would begin the process of isolating Georgia and Tennessee from the rest of the Masonic world because of the inherently unmasonic decisions that they have rendered. When their Blue Lodges either joined my Grand Lodge or formed their own Grand Lodges that would receive immediate recognition, they would know that they had a true Masonic friend in Pennsylvania that upheld the virtues and principles of equality in the fraternity above all else.

Instead of the public seeing little action, they would see a precedent set that if you tarnish the reputation of the fraternity with racist or homophobic edicts, then there is a price to pay in the form of severe consequences. Those consequences would not only be severe enough to make every Mason within my jurisdiction think twice about engaging in racial, homophobic, or prejudicial conduct, but they would have a devastating impact on Grand Lodges who engaged in such conduct.

If other Grand Lodges followed my example, then Georgia and Tennessee would have no choice but to reverse their edicts and overturn the convictions that have been entered against Brethren on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientation due to the sheer amount of pressure exerted on them. Moreover, we would not have to throw in the towel and say, “Well, there is not much we can do about it,” when we face the media. Additionally, no other jurisdiction would even consider enacting such policies by the time it was said and done because they know that my jurisdiction will act against it. If we responded with edicts and actions similar to the ones proposed, then the discussions that we are having about Georgia and Tennessee would not be concerned with how they are tarnishing the reputation of the fraternity. Instead, we would be enhancing the reputation of the fraternity by taking a firm stand that inequality does not have a place in a Blue Lodge or any Grand Lodge. Simply put, if we do not take action, then the public sees us as being just as much a part of the problem.

I have chosen to remain anonymous owing to the fact that I no longer live in Pennsylvania. Instead, I now live in one of the jurisdictions that have passed the edict against homosexuals. Although I am saddened by the fact that no Grand Lodge has chosen to act, I fully intend on joining a Lodge in this jurisdiction, making my way to the East, and gaining the ability to vote against the current policies of the Grand Lodge. I fear that if my identity is exposed that I will have problems joining a local Lodge with the hope of making positive change. I hope, however, that my series of articles will cause you to see the problem of inequality within the Craft, that you will demand that action be taken within your respective Grand Lodges, and become an active part of making a change within the fraternity that live up to our ideals of equality within our ranks.

 

 

For Freemasons, Is Banning Gays Or Being Gay Un-Masonic? : NPR

March 22, 2016 4 comments

Those members who keep insisting that we “shouldn’t air our dirty laundry in public” probably aren’t pleased with this NPR story. But the fact is that by squashing discussion about some of these issues, it creates a climate – indeed, a mindset – that we should *never* talk about some of these issues.

We can’t solve the problems if we can’t even talk about them.

Over the next two days in Nashville, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee will decide which conduct is more Un-masonic: Being gay or banning gays, a decision that could affect Freemasons around the world.

Read the entire article here:

http://www.npr.org/2016/03/22/471414979/for-freemasons-is-banning-gays-or-being-gay-un-masonic

Categories: Freemasonry
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