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Disciplined Behavior

September 18, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dateline: Wallingford, CT — A group of Jewish Freemasons, joined by a number of Muslim brothers, plus several other interested parties, met with the Grand Lodge of Connecticut to demand that lodges stop serving pork products at dinner, including bacon and sausages during the various pancake breakfasts. The group handed over a list of Kosher and Helal religious observances that they demanded lodges should meet, and accordingly, the Grand Master will issue an edict to that effect so that all of the lodges will be in accordance.

No, wait… that didn’t happen.

More specifically, it didn’t happen because for the most part, Connecticut Freemasons — Jewish, Christian, and everyone else — remember that one of the strengths of our society is that we accept men who are of good character regardless of religious background. We — most of us — make an effort to leave our particular piques and quarrels outside of the lodge room.

What did happen this week, however, is that the Grand Master of Georgia (as evidenced by the note on Chris Hodapp’s blog) presented an edict to the effect that homosexual behavior is counter to the Masonic Code of Georgia Freemasons, and anyone engaging in such acts will be subject to discipline. For those who can’t read the potato-phone picture, the relevant passage is this:

“Masonic Code section 77-108 shall be hereby amended to add that: Homosexual activity with anyone is prohibited conduct subjecting the offender to Masonic discipline.”

It now joins the existing prohibited activities of Adultery and Fornication.

The Grand Lodge of Georgia may have simply been following the suit already played by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, which has already established that homosexual activity, “lewd conduct,” and co-habitation are all taboo activities, along with Gambling, Drunkenness, Use of Profanity, and Sharing of Pornography.

“In the foreground, a drunken freemason, identified by his apron and set square medallion as the Worshipful Master of a lodge, is being helped home by his Tyler, as the contents of a chamber pot are emptied onto his head from a window. In some of the prints, a woman standing back from the window looks down on him, suggesting that his soaking is not accidental.”William Hogarth, “Night”

In the Tennessee case, also referenced by Bro. Hodapp, WB Dennis Clark, a gay man, recently married his partner in a legal ceremony, and is now being prosecuted, presumably because his same-sex marriage is an indication that he would be engaging in homosexual activity. Bro. Clark’s long list of titles suggests that he has been a Freemason for quite some time, and may have been aware of the code. However, the point remains that he is being singled out, while the Grand Lodge has been ignoring the presumably more frequent cases of brothers with live-in girlfriends, or those that have frequented the local bars, the brothers buying lottery tickets, etc.

Grand Lodge jurisdictions are sovereign; that is, there’s no head of Freemasonry to tell the Grand Lodge of any state, province, or country what they should or should not have in their code. And personally speaking, I don’t like the idea of the Grand Lodges of each state telling other Grand Lodges what they should or should not do. The calls on the internet this week for the derecognition of Georgia and Tennessee are examples of the members perhaps blowing things out of proportion; Grand Lodges should be able to figure these things out for themselves.

But let’s also keep in mind that while Freemasons understand (for the most part) that jurisdictions all have their own rules, the general public — you know, those people who read the Dan Brown books, and watch those History Channel specials — have no idea how the Society works. When the public starts hearing that “The Masons will kick you out if you’re gay” — and they will, of course, because these stories are already making the rounds on social media — they aren’t going to think to themselves “Oh, never mind, it’s just those guys in Georgia.” No, they will associate this with the entire fraternity in the US. Freemasonry, already fighting a reputation as an “old man’s club,” will soon be fighting a reputation as an “old dinosaur’s club.”

Freemasonry, as a society, does not need to be on the forefront of social change. It does not need to be waving a banner for whatever popular movement happens to be in the public eye. There are times when it is actually good to be conservative in actions or outlook. But societal change is going to happen. We don’t need to lead the march, but it would be nice not to appear that we are being dragged along, kicking and screaming.

 

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  1. September 18, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Thank-you Brother Tom for posting this!

    Like

  2. September 19, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Great article/summary, Tom…

    For a fraternal society aiming to reflect only the best and most tolerant in our communities, we sure aren’t doing a very good job in these states. To put legal marriages at a par with gambling and drinking is arcane and frankly idiotic. Because of this, therefore, there must be a deeper “real” reason for it.

    Now normally, in civilian & military affairs, we simply ‘follow the money’, and the real reason is made plain. But in a volunteer mini-society, where the more pins you have, the more righteous you are, the reasons are usually much more personal & political. It means that those in ‘power’ abuse that power by imprinting their own personal, illegal bullying & persecution on others simply because they can. A small, insignificant man outside Lodge can assume great, easily abused powers by simply stringing on an apron.

    In the EA Charge ,we are reminded to abide by the local laws of our state, not to create a publicity nightmare for the ‘rest’ of Freemasonry because of internal political pressure or their own ‘morals’.

    Now the fact that one is an edict isn’t lost on me, and as a result of this grandstanding it will no doubt never pass a majority vote at annual… But what if it did? Being a peaceful servant does not include going against the law of the land, or does it? Being a tolerant society (the one thing that has kept us going all this time) isn’t worth abandoning for some homophobic posturing, right? Or it is?

    And then there is the point I will leave you with as the precedent for further troubles for a troubled fraternity: If any law is able to be dismissed, how long until the public and police catch on?

    In summary, how <precisely can this possibly help us?

    pat
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 19, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      One of the points that some brothers have raised is that because it’s an edict, it may not continue past the GM’S terms up.

      But not all states operate like each other. In GA, PMs all have a vote, which means that the electorate doesn’t change much from year to year. Also, my GA friends tell me that unless the new GM rescinds it immediately, it may well become law because of the difficulty in changing Masonic Code in that state.

      The calls for derecognition are emotional, but understandable. It would be nice, however, if the GMs of the more enlightened states could make announcements to the members of their respective jurisdictions to the effect that they do not support such edicts, and will work toward reviewing the current rules to make sure it won’t happen in those states.

      Like

      • September 24, 2015 at 7:27 pm

        All one has to do is simply read the EA Charge…

        pat
        🙂

        Like

  3. John Bower
    September 24, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks for the article Tom. I have read a fair bit on the history of our Fraternity and it seems to me that Masonry was regarded as ‘ruling the world’ because it was an organization where men could speak freely and discuss ideas of equality, relief, and TRUTH – ideas that got out of the Lodge room and into society. Freemasonry has been an organization that led thought and to see even two jurisdictions make such a discriminatory edict amazes me. I have always believed the information in the degrees – “we are all sprung from the same stock, partakers of the same nature and sharers of the same hope … we are all Brothers”. To say that homosexuals are non-Masonic is just wrong since we are the one Fraternity that is prepared to accept any man who wants to join provided he is free by birth, of mature age and believes in a higher power (God or whomever you wish).

    Like

  4. September 24, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    I’m not that concerned with the details/minutia, John. That isn’t the truly troubling part, as this week its sexuality, next week it will be something else, and so on. The truly disturbing trend is that Lodges & Leaders are forgetting/ignoring/mutinying against their Obligation and (among others) the EA Charge. Once an organization, fraternity, mob gets comfortable with ignoring the rule of law in the land, it then truly becomes a worthy target of scrutiny.

    “In the state, you are to be a quiet and peaceful citizen, true to your government, and just to your country; you are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live. In your outward demeanor, be particularly careful to avoid censure and reproach.”

    “…that the honor, glory, and reputation of the institution may be firmly established, and the world at large convinced of its good effects.”

    Is Masonry the ring? The Lodge building? Those shiny pins on their righteous collars? How can one stray so far from the light, convinced of their own good effects, ignorant of the damage they do to the fraternity as a whole? Their reign will come & go, but the damage done will take many, many years… And as our tiny state is still recovering from a dark 18 months, do we really need our Brothers acting so selfishly? How can this possibly be seen as bringing honor to the fraternity? To act with only one’s own interests in mind is the antithesis of Masonry, and fuel for those who know no better.

    It is times like these that I deeply regret the freedom each jurisdiction (states in the USA) has to make jackasses out of themselves with no accountability, responsibility, and no obligation for apology and reparation of wrongs. I wonder if they even remember hearing the words…

    “…I give it to you strictly in charge as such ever to walk and act.”

    Another self-inflicted wound.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. September 28, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    I applaud the GM for taking a stand on this, rather than bowing to political correctness and the “wisdom of the times”! One of the prerequisites to becoming a mason is the declaration of a belief in a Supreme Being. This usually entails some connection to one of the various major religions. I do not know ANY recognized religion that does not consider homosexuality to be anything other than a sin and abomination. Before I am accused of being “intolerant”, cherry picking, or holding one sin greater than others, I want to state that God loves us ALL. Any sin that is a “singular act” can be confessed and forgiven while the sin of homosexuality is a “continual” sin and lifestyle. It, like any other sin, can be forgiven, if confessed and turned away from. The majority of homosexuals and supporters attempt to justify it, deflect, or compare it to Mosaic Laws of the Old Testament (which are not relevant to Born Again Christians). Homosexuality does not have a place in Freemasonry, whose tenants and teachings have its very roots intertwined with religion and recognition of The Grand Architect of the Universe, universally represented by the letter “G”. Freemasonry is an institution that has subsisted from time immemorial and has withstood the test of time because it has never abandoned its precepts and moral foundations. It has remained a constant because of its resistance to change and since homosexuality has historically been viewed as an immoral practice, it is staying within practice of our fraternity to refuse to accept it, simply because it has become more politically correct and socially accepted in many avenues!

    Like

    • October 19, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      Actually there were I think 12 different Christian churches represented at the Indianapolis Pride parade all showing support for marriage equality and equally accepting of gay members. There are also several monotheistic religions that don’t have any teachings one way or another. In other words: please don’t speak for my religious beliefs which do find my sexuality to be perfectly normal and moral.

      Liked by 1 person

      • October 20, 2015 at 1:02 pm

        No matter how few, focusing on our common denominators-the things we have in common with each other-to the exclusion of all else, is the basis of Masonry. Bricks aren’t rejected for a wall because of where they were made, but for their suitability as bricks.

        The moment we veer off the road, and focus on the differences, we let selfish pride into the conversation with open arms.

        Liked by 1 person

    • October 21, 2015 at 7:10 am

      …the sin of homosexuality is a “continual” sin…” ~Tim Prosser

      You have lost your way, Brother.

      pat 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • October 21, 2015 at 7:25 am

      The majority of homosexuals and supporters attempt to justify it, deflect, or compare it…” ~Tim Prosser

      Equality, fairness, tolerance, and calling each “Brother” needs no justification. Its baked into Masonry. What isn’t is the kind of hate and darkness that you are self-righteously declaring to be Masonry. Using this forum, and topic, as your own personal podium to grab your 15 minutes in search of support has gone wasted.

      I can only hope that the many comments here correcting you will show those future Brothers that you in no way represent the Craft, and are only using Masonry to bring disgrace upon it.

      You don’t speak on this matter for anyone but yourself. And as long as you preach your hate and intolerance toward your fellow man, and more especially a Brother Mason, you are far, far outside your circumscribed bounds that define your passions, Brother.

      You speak for, and represent no one, save your own dark soul. Please do the Craft no further dishonor by implying/inferring that Masonry somehow supports your narrow, bigoted views. You forget your station, and that your words are viewed by the public, who eats up your words as truths to be used against the Craft. You speak no truths.

      Your hate, and ignorance of the passions you have let run free have blinded you to the damage you are incurring to our honorable institution. How you strayed so far from the Light is a mystery, and no doubt you are a tortured soul.

      And although you seem far past the point of listening with the attentive ear to wise counsel whispered into it… do your healing in public, but your dark hatred keep to yourself.

      pat
      😦

      Liked by 1 person

  6. October 10, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    You have some solid points, Brother Tom, but while we may not need to be leading the march and waving the flags, it may be well to remember that during the time that Freemasonry developed its reputation and grew to be an important institution, it was doing exactly that!

    Like

  7. October 27, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Bogus
    I have in NO way lost my way! You and your ilk are what is causing the downfall of an Ancient and Noble Order! By accepting just anything, because of political correctness, you have debased the dignity of the order. Masonry would had been much better served, had you been blackballed! I am a 25 year KYCH recipient and can ASSURE you that the York Rite Bodies will NEVER accept homosexuality as anything other than the perversion that it is! I am proud that the GLOG found suit to adopt edict 2015-1 today and took a stand for decency and morality in a world that is otherwise going in the wrong direction. PLEASE leave Freemasonry, as it does not seem to accept your queer ideals and being in the ranks of honorable men who reject your perversion will no doubt haunt your tortured soul!

    Like

    • October 28, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Tim, the GLGA just upheld the GMs ruling with a vote. They also made “cohabiting” a Masonic offense. Let’s see how many Freemasons will be up against charges when it’s discovered that they are living together without the benefit of marriage. In fact, how many of those would be in a second marriage? Technically, isn’t that cohabitation, as well, since the OT comes out pretty strong against divorce?

      It’s not a matter of accepting “PC” thought; it’s a matter of allowing brothers to do what they want in the privacy of their own homes. Anything that consenting adults get up to, as long as it doesn’t hurt any other party, is simply respect for human nature.

      Like

      • October 28, 2015 at 8:43 pm

        How secure is someone in their faith that they need to put other faiths down to make themselves feel more righteous? And if the faith itself forces/condones/allows you to hate other religions, suicide bomb, or mask your insecurities with false bravado, then I doubt your religion’s very foundations. Your own actions betray that fact that you, too, doubt it’s intentions.

        A good religion doesn’t need to put others down to make itself look better. It is self-evident.

        I also see the act of calling opinions contrary to one’s own as “PC” a trite way to somehow imply that they are wrong. It is the last act of a desperate argument that has run out of facts to lash out and accuse others of it’s very own weaknesses.

        Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means you are not allowed to have ANY of them at another’s expense. Learn that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • October 28, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        Pat, it’s instructive to note that GA allows PMs a permanent vote in their GL. This means that there’s less turnover in new ideas, as the same people will vote – over and over – for the same things. It’s one thing to uphold “tradition,” but that same model can also serve to perpetuate less desirable things, like racism (GL GA and PHA still aren’t talking), or as we see, the ability to mix freemasonry with religion in an exclusive, as opposed to inclusive manner.

        I feel badly for Masons like Tim; it’s easy to preach “the brotherhood of man” when your idea of “the fatherhood of God” is so ridiculously narrow.

        Like

  8. Dennis Robert Clark
    February 8, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Good evening, Gentlemen. Here is an update on case 15-05, Grand Lodge of Tennessee v Brother Dennis Robert Clark. On January 30, 2016, GM Philip Dwight Hasings convicted my partner and me of offenses against the Grand Lodge, i.e., our marriage was an offense because it implied we would also have an intimate relationship. The rationale the Grand Master uses to conflate lewd behavior and marriage is astonishing in an organization that prides finds its roots in enlightened reason and rational thought. It is impossible to describe the feeling of being rejected by the same lodge we both worked so hard to rebuild. After investing thousands of hours rebuilding Park Avenue Lodge #362 in Memphis and tens of thousands of dollars, after serving openly and happily to repair it and make the lodge a better place to be and a place to spend time for our brethren and our families, there is no way to describe the sense of rejection at the hands of my own brothers. Indeed, several of the officers were at our Blessing; they ate our food, danced to our music, enjoyed a day at our farm, and took communion with us. And now, not one of them will stand and speak for us. They are waiting until March to call a vote to remove some language from the constitution. In Tennessee, we say, “Everything that is vicious and cruel and oppressive it (Freemasonry) reprobates.” It doesn’t say to wait till the next Grand Lodge meeting to take a vote. Still, not one has stood up to say, “Stop! No more.” Some of these men I helped financially, many have come to my house for fellowship meals. They have come at my invitation to our Cathedral to celebrate Easter and Christmas. And now, they have vanished into nothingness. My former brothers, this is the stuff that Tennessee Freemasonry is made of. Mark and I are fallen soldiers in this war against bigotry but I am hopeful that the good brothers in Tennessee will right the ship and wrestle power away from those who would stand proudly on a decision that does nothing but stain the reputation of a Fraternity that I have loved.

    Like

  9. Jay Bell
    February 27, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I don’t understand why any of anything needs to be done or said outside of open lodge. Its not any of the public’s business what goes on inside of those 4 walls.and how things are taken care of.i mean if we’re gonna air our dirty laundry to everyone, why not just open it up like the VFW, or the moose ?

    Like

    • February 27, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Jay, the idea that we should not “air our dirty laundry” may be the kind of mindset that allows us to ignore or dismiss the issues.

      Sometimes sunlight can be a good disinfectant. 😉

      Like

  10. Yamin Ben Lavandera
    March 1, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    It sad that at this day and age our Worshipful Brethen do not use tolerance.

    Like

  11. Yamin Ben Lavandera
    March 1, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    I have been active in the Royal Art for over 20 years.Humanity as a whole is changing. Freemasonry is a HUMAN institution. And like any must change or and adapt insuring its place. We are not using tolerance by Brothers. We are cutting our own throats and using our tools to do it. We are acting like Juvelas,Jubeli, and Jubelon. We must remember that all if us are between the square and compass.

    Under the GAOTU we all play chess on the black and white floor. Not one of us is without blemish. The degrees are wise and teach us from first to third to be wise. Never sign anything without reading. Do not trust in men they will betray you. And never kneel to a man

    The truth is there in the one and only Freemasonry. Three degrees my W.B. Always get upset with me but I don’t care. If the Brothers are married and have not legally committed any crime for crying out loud. Love is the essence of the Royal Art and given to us by the Grand Architect of the Universe.

    Enlighten each other. Stop fighting each other. Help and love each other. But overall respect each other. Our W.B. Benito Juarez Garcia said, ” El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.” Respect others rights is peace. Tolerance is wisdom and painful at times but wise.

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