The Deepening of Fraternal Intolerance & Autocracy
There is a disturbing trend that has come back into American life. It is the return of INTOLERANCE. We can see it all across society in religious, political and fraternal settings.
In the religious realm I can think back to the post 911 prayer service held in Yankee stadium shortly after that terrorist attack. Religious leaders of various faiths, and within Christianity various denominations, gathered to lift up our concerns to the Almighty. The opening prayer was given by a Lutheran minister, Missouri Synod. The next day he was brought up on charges of excommunication by his church because he had participated with other faiths together on the same platform. This was considered a sin of religious pluralism, considering all faiths as equal.
Pope Benedict has slammed the door on a wink-wink disapproval of Freemasonry, going back to a full-fledged excommunication for Masonic Catholics.
In today’s society if you say the word God or display religious symbols you are accused of being offensive. Many Americans today believe that there is a right not to be offended. Yet what is offensive about another being different? Another person’s choice may not be my choice but I can certainly live with and even rejoice in celebration with other cultural, religious and political persuasions without feeling a need to eradicate them. Perhaps that is why I am a Mason.
If American society does not prohibit the open display of religious dress anywhere why does it feel necessary to prohibit religious expression of another nature? And why is that expression offensive? As a Christian it does not trouble me to witness a Hindu or a Muslim publicly praying and using the religious symbols of their faith. I rejoice that they love God. I have no desire to shut them up.
FOX News reports:
A federal judge has ordered a Texas school district to prohibit public prayer at a high school graduation ceremony.
Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery’s order against the Medina Valley Independent School District also forbids students from using specific religious words including “prayer” and “amen.”
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Christa and Danny Schultz. Their son is among those scheduled to participate in Saturday’s graduation ceremony. The judge declared that the Schultz family and their son would “suffer irreparable harm” if anyone prayed at the ceremony.
Judge Biery’s ruling banned students and other speakers from using religious language in their speeches. Among the banned words or phrases are: “join in prayer,” “bow their heads,” “amen,” and “prayer.”
He also ordered the school district to remove the terms “invocation” and “benediction” from the graduation program.
“These terms shall be replaced with ‘opening remarks’ and ‘closing remarks,’” the judge’s order stated. His ruling also prohibits anyone from saying, “in [a deity’s name] we pray.”
Should a student violate the order, school district officials could find themselves in legal trouble. Judge Biery ordered that his ruling be “enforced by incarceration or other sanctions for contempt of Court if not obeyed by District official (sic) and their agents.”
One can wonder if instead of freedom of religion we are now being forced fed freedom from religion.
And as we go from the religious to the political arena we hear that many Christian Evangelicals that would like to vote Republican in this year’s Presidential campaign will refuse to vote for Mitt Romney because he is Mormon. Now no one is asking Evangelicals to convert to Mormonism nor are they being flooded with Mormon religious doctrine. Yet they perceive Romney to be a personal threat from the mere fact that he will be making governmental decisions guided by what they view as from a heretical moral basis.
Meanwhile, even after all the assurances of a new age of non confrontational politics, those running for office this year are practicing the politics of personal destruction on an unprecedented scale. Millions more dollars than usual are being spent to trash the other side. If you think about what has been done to Barrack Obama, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, we can say that we truly are in the era of gangster politics.
Freemasonry need not copy the intolerant, autocratic, divisive ways of the profane, but it has. Mainstream Freemasonry has in direct contradiction to the principles and virtues of this gentle Craft which is all about bringing people together and of people of different cultures, religions, education, political persuasion, means and races coming together in peace and harmony.
Fraternally we have seen in the last 50 years an unprecedented increase in Grand Lodge power leaving the local Lodge little self autonomy. Grand Masters in some jurisdictions have been able to make many far reaching decisions without the vote of the body as a whole while at the same time violating their Grand Constitutions and by-laws with impunity. This consolidation of Grand Lodge power has followed two avenues.
1) Grand Masters will add into their Constitutions and by-laws provisions whereby they are the sole authority over all decisions made in their jurisdictions. Whether they do this by a vote of a Grand Session or just strong arm these changes directly into the Constitution makes little difference. Once endowed with such great power, they become answerable to no one.
2) Next they insert into the Masonic Obligations of their jurisdictions that all members of their jurisdiction must obey the Grand Lodge without question. No matter what the Grand Master does it becomes a direct violation of your Obligation to refuse to obey it.
Now the deal is sealed. You have sworn onto God that you will do whatever the Grand Master asks you no matter what it is. And failure to do so will be considered unmasonic conduct punishable by expulsion. There are some that say that even if you were to leave Freemasonry, demit, and not come back, that you are still bound by the wishes of your jurisdiction’s Grand Master.
So when you object to the Grand Master lying, cheating and stealing you are tried and convicted of unmasonic conduct and expelled. When your Grand Master says that you cannot write about Freemasonry, that you cannot talk to other jurisdictions and Obediences about Freemasonry, that you cannot put any Masonic information on Facebook or Twitter, that you cannot E-Mail other Brothers in your jurisdiction, you are required to obey or get booted out. And the justification for your dismissal is that you violated the Grand Lodge Constitution and by-laws and your Obligation.
Yet there is nothing inherent in Freemasonry that would force you to surrender your Civil Rights and the freedoms that you enjoy by right of being an American citizen as spelled out in the Constitution of the United States. Freemasons have always been tolerant “free-thinkers.” They have been the bastion of liberty and freedom, opposing both an autocratic government of monarchies and an oppressive church. The present day style of Masonic government is directly opposed to the principles of the Enlightenment from which it sprang and endorsed.
For the latest example of a long line of shenanigans by Grand Masters see: http://masonicleaks.com/2012/02/arizona-turmoil/
None of this is possible without having the power of an enforced monopoly. Mainstream Masonry is a monopoly because it has declared itself to be one in the “Right of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction.” Having eradicated all competition, Mainstream Masonry can proceed under autocratic rule without challenge.
Nevertheless competition is still there. And the way that Mainstream Masonry deals with that competition is to label it irregular, clandestine and heretical. Through the years it has tried to force that view on others by using the power of the civil courts.
Today, more than ever, as Mainstream Masonry feels the pinch of a declining membership, we can see the vitriolic attacks that it makes against others who desire to practice their version of fraternalism. Prince Hall Masonry, Female Masonry, Co-Masonry are other avenues of Masonic expression that Mainstream Masonry continues to persecute. Then there are a whole plethora of knock offs and copycats that adorn the landscape for which there is even greater derision.
Any Masonic website that features anything but the Mainstream line is ganged up on and trashed. Name calling and even threats by Mainstream Masons can be read on Masonic Forums and Masonic Yahoo Groups and on Masonic call in radio programs. Trash your non Mainstream Mason. Stick it to him! Try to hurt him any way you can. GUTTER FREEMASONRY!
Consider the fact that some Mainstream Masons attempted a coup d’état of a Masonic research and educational society open to more than just Mainstream Masons and when that failed they pulled out in mass and opened a competitive copy cat society but restricted it to those in amity with the Mainstream Conference of Grand Masters.
What happened to live and let live? What happened to let the best man or woman win? WHAT HAPPENED TO TOLERATION? Why must all competition be eradicated? What is wrong with someone doing it another way? Why is a Mormon or a Female Mason a threat to anybody’s way of life?
A good position can be made for Freemasons of all different Obediences restricting themselves to attending a tyled Masonic Communication of their own jurisdiction only. But there is no good reason for not enjoying joint ventures outside the Lodge room and of breaking bread together, of living together the Masonic way of peace, harmony and respect for each other.
Freemasonry has prided itself on two key factors for generations, one, that it is tolerant and two, that it is universal. Mainstream Masonry is neither.
The sad fact is that Mainstream Masonry never learned its lesson from the Morgan Affair. Not to learn from history is a crime. To repeat history is a tragedy. Mainstream Masonry may be resigning itself to a death wish.