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Pitchforks into ploughshares

Freemasons that have been online in the last few weeks have been discussing the news item that the Grand Lodge of Tennessee expelled two active members of the fraternity for the presumed violation of the Masonic Code, which prohibits, in part, homosexual behavior.

I would like to take the opportunity to mention that I’m very disappointed at the open displays of intolerance and outright prejudice.

No, I’m not talking about Tennessee, or Georgia, or the other Grand Lodges which have made similar noises. I’m talking about the comments that I’ve been seeing all over social media from other members of the fraternity who do not support the decision.

Look, brothers, I get it. Perhaps you have worked through your own prejudices about different things, or perhaps you grew up without understanding how people can have those ideas. And you understand that Freemasonry is one of the few social institutions that allows men from various classes and cultures to meet together without the concern for titles, labels, or other forms of prejudice, and you are angry that some Grand Lodges (or at least, their officers) do not seem to interpret the purpose of the society in the way that you do. torches-pitchforks

But many of you are simply lashing out, and your righteous indignation is not helping your cause. Over the last couple of weeks, I have seen some of you use terms like “hayseeds,” “morons,” “bigoted,” “idiots,” and sadly, much worse. I’ve seen accusations that the members of those states have forgotten — or never knew — their Masonic duties. I’ve seen many of you suggest that those Grand Lodges are not worthy of recognition, that all enlightened Grand Lodges should immediately rescind any agreements of amity with them. And I’ve seen some of you suggest things much more crude.

Is this how Freemasons should act toward anyone, especially each other?

Most of us have a charge in our obligations to “whisper good counsel” to an errant brother, to help to set him aright “in the most tender manner.” The idea behind this is that taking somebody aside to talk to them is generally more helpful than screaming epithets from a distance. It’s not just Freemasonry, it’s a factor of human nature. You can not teach people tolerance and respect by failing to display it in your own behavior.

The Grand Lodges of other jurisdictions have already been discussing the situation, and some, as you know, have released statements regarding their position. Instead of continuing to insult (because that’s what you are doing) your brothers in other states, it would be more useful to turn your energies toward letting your own Grand Lodge know what you think. And please, let’s treat our fellow Masons in Tennessee, Georgia, and elsewhere with respect and consideration. You may not agree with their opinion, but ranting at them on the internet is not the best way to demonstrate what tolerance should be about.

After all, when was the last time you changed your mind on some issue because somebody called you an idiot?


  1. rcharvonia
    March 4, 2016 at 2:06 pm


    Liked by 1 person

  2. March 4, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Well, Bro. Tom,

    As usual, you fail to disappoint. We seldom agree 100% but after the minor differences and perhaps a couple of medium ones on one nitpicking detail or another in this fine post, you end with the remark “After all, when was the last time you changed your mind on some issue because somebody called you an idiot?” How can anyone find a rejoinder to that? I know I can’t. Well done.


    • March 6, 2016 at 11:06 am

      “you fail to disappoint.”

      I’ve had college professors who used to give out glowing praise like this.


  3. denclark2016
    March 5, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Thank you for your Leadership, Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 6, 2016 at 11:11 am

      Bro. Dennis, the regional cultural differences across the US make it inevitable that some of us are going to disagree on things. My hope is that we can all perhaps pick out a small, but core group of principles that we do agree on, and just go on from there.

      I’d hope that one of those principles would be mutual respect for all members of the society, despite our disagreements on some principles outside that core.


      • denclark2016
        March 6, 2016 at 9:40 pm

        On the issue of tolerance, R.W.Brother Len Wyllie said, “We have to assume an attitude that is completely tolerant of the views and ideas of our fellow Brethren. We may feel that their idea or point of view is wrong but we must recognize that they have their own reasons for their expressions and it is not our lot to judge them for that.”–Wyllie, 2003. I think this is what you are saying as well. It is true that everyone bears the weight of their own histories and we cannot know the lived experiences of others. It is only through dialog that we have the hope of benefitting from each others’ wisdom and genius.
        Dennis Robert Clark


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