Mainstream Dichotomy

Dixie-LandThe ramifications of the Florida Masonic religious ban reach far beyond the borders of Florida which we will point out momentarily. But first it is worthy to note that other gross violations of Masonic conduct by Florida Brethren have existed for years without any disapproval or reprimand outside the Sunshine State.

For years I have heard of stories of how African American Mainstream Masons from New York (and elsewhere) who were snowbirds spending 6 months of their year in Florida were treated. The Beehive has recently consulted with three Florida Past Masters to verify this practice and ask if it was still in force.

When a “Black Man” appeared at a Florida Lodge for visitation carrying fully accredited papers and knowledge from another Mainstream jurisdiction, the Florida Lodge would refuse to open or if already opened would immediately close. The “Black Man” would then be admitted inside the Lodge room where some explanation for this procedure would be offered by the Master, such as the candidate failed to show up tonight so we have cancelled the degree work. Then a Past Master would rise to give a Masonic education lecture. The Lodge remained closed as long as the “Black Man” remained in the building. The information I have received and verified through three Florida Past Masters is still going on and is the unwritten policy of the Grand Lodge that no man of color ever be allowed into a Florida Mainstream tyled Communication, certified Mainstream Master Mason or not.

To the best knowledge of this author no Grand Lodge or Grand Master in the rest of the American jurisdictions has ever publicly scolded or criticized this Florida practice even though it is widely known to be going on.

So what hope do we have that any other jurisdiction will take any action against Florida’s latest religious ban? But they should.

Suppose you are a Vermont Freemason and a Wiccan who wants to visit a Florida Lodge while on vacation. Chances are good that you will be denied admission. Suppose that you are a Vermont Freemason and your job transfers you to Florida. So you join your new Grand Lodge and demit from your old one. You happen to be an Odinist ignorant of the recent Florida religious ruling. Now the Grand Lodge of Florida will expel you and under the good old boys mutual agreement to honor all things another jurisdiction does, Vermont will not let you be reinstated there. You are now on the outside looking in.

But how will Florida know what your religion is, you ask? That’s easy. The good old boys network has established the rule in most American Grand Lodges that before embarking outside your jurisdiction you must first receive the permission from your Grand Lodge who will contact the Jurisdiction you are going to for you. Now when it happens that you are going to a regressive, tyrannical regime like Florida, West Virginia, Arkansas and others the Grand Secretary there will ask the visiting Brothers skin color and his religion. If you think Freemasonry is Universal, think again. Maybe in other parts of the world but not here.

While Grand Masters across the nation may be keeping their mouths shut rank and file Brethren are not. Some objectors have set up a Masonic Landmark Restoration Community Facebook Page  – and here is a letter being circulated from that site that pretty much explains the problem:

On November 28, 2012, the Grand Master of Florida, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Jorge Aladro issued a Ruling and Decree stating that participation in alternative religious belief systems, “primarily Paganism, Wiccan and Odinism, and secondarily Agnosticism and Gnosticism” were not compatible with Freemasonry.

This ruling, known as Ruling and Decision No. 3, further states that any Freemason “that professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion since there is no provision to allow anything contrary to the Ancient Landmarks”.

As Freemasons, we are not defined by our religious or spiritual practices; rather, we are defined by our character and our work. While spiritual beliefs may augment or act as a catalyst in our path as men and Freemasons, it is ultimately an inner voice that guides us on our quest towards improvement and self mastery. That inner voice is an expression of the Divine, which we, as Freemasons, recognize and accept as such. Without belief we can never be Freemasons, as our very institution demands it in both written and spoken word. As Dr. Mackey stated so eloquently in the NINETEENTH Landmark;

“A belief in the existence of God as the GRAND ARCHITECT of the universe, is one of the most important Landmarks of the Order. It has been always deemed essential that a denial of the existence of a Supreme and Superintending Power, is an absolute disqualification for initiation. The annals of the Order never yet have furnished or could furnish an instance in which an avowed atheist was ever made a Mason. The very Initiatory ceremonies of the first degree forbid and prevent the possibility of so monstrous an occurrence.”

We also recognize that God has many names and is worshiped in many ways. The Masonic Institution is not a religion; however, it expects each Brother to follow his own faith. Furthermore, the Masonic Institution imparts that the method of worship is sacred to each individual and ought never be judged or constrained by others, most especially a Brother Mason. Finally, belief in God ought never be confused with methods of worship. The religions and spiritual practices identified as “incompatible with Freemasonry” in Ruling and Decision No. 3 all demand belief in a Supreme Power; which in turn satisfies this most important Landmark.

At this point, you may be asking why a Freemason from the Grand Lodge of Vermont is so concerned with the affairs of another Grand Lodge. There are a number of reasons for this and I would like to outline some of them here:

- In the “Ceremony of Recognition of the Flag” we are reminded that we “worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience” because of the freedoms accorded to us, which are exemplified by our National Colors. Ruling and Decision No. 3 violates the Masonic spirit of religious tolerance as it’s celebrated in this Ceremony. If left unchallenged, this poses a moral dilemma for all established Free and Accepted Masonic Lodges in the United States. This country was founded on religious freedom and many of the builders of our country were Freemasons who understood firsthand the tyranny of religious preferences.

- In the Middle Chamber Lecture, we are taught about the universality of Masonry. We may have jurisdictional boundaries, but we are all Brothers nonetheless. Therefore, when we see that a Brother is in distress, it is our duty to help. At least two Florida Freemasons have, with great reluctance and deep regret, turned in their dues cards and resigned from Masonry by Order of the Grand Master of Florida, in accordance with Ruling and Decision No. 3. Theirs is a deep sense of abandonment and sadness after having successfully petitioned for admission; been accepted by unanimous ballot; and been regularly initiated into our Fraternity. They not only passed the requirements as specified in the NINETEENTH Landmark; they were also open when pressed on their religious and spiritual pursuits, despite the fact that established protocols dealing with religious tolerance prohibited that type of questioning. These distressed Brothers are blameless and have been unjustly removed from a fraternity that they still desire to remain a part of.

- Vermont Brethren are guaranteed by the FOURTEENTH Landmark the right to sit in all regular Lodges when sojourning out of State. For any Vermont Brother who subscribes to any of the prohibited religions or beliefs, he may find himself turned away from Lodges that fall under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Florida. This also jeopardizes relocating Brothers with similarly prohibited religious or spiritual beliefs. Though they may have dedicated their lives in service to the Craft in Vermont; they will have their petitions rejected by the Grand Lodge of Florida for their “incompatible” religious beliefs.

The TWENTY-FIFTH Landmark of Freemasonry demands that ALL Masonic Landmarks remain inviolate; that no one may add, subtract or modify in them in the slightest. Ruling and Decision No. 3 has indeed modified them by adding a religious qualifier that excludes men from the Fraternity – including previously raised Master Masons. This is in direct violation of the spirit and letter of these Landmarks. Interestingly enough, the Grand Lodge of Florida published following passage in the official publication titled, “Booklet No. 1: The Lodge System of Masonic Education”:

“To the same effect is the ancient law forbidding that a candidate or Brother shall be questioned as to his particular mode of religious faith and also that no sectarian matters shall intrude within a Lodge. Just as it would mean the ultimate destruction of Freemasonry if it were to make itself over into the hands of a political party, so would it mean its death sooner or later to surrender itself to one particular religious Faith or belief.”

In summary, the act of qualifying religious beliefs as a prerequisite to petition for membership, or, remain a member of the Grand Lodge of Florida puts the Grand Lodge of Florida in a state that is incompatible with the principles and Landmarks of Regular Free and Accepted Masonic jurisdictions in the United States.

It is my hope that the Grand Lodge of Vermont can assist our Brothers in Florida by petitioning the Grand Master of Florida to reconsider and repeal Ruling and Decision No. 3.

Should this petition go unheeded by the Grand Master of Florida, then I respectfully request that the Grand Lodge of Vermont withdraw Official Recognition of the Grand Lodge of Florida, as their modifications on the Landmarks of Freemasonry puts them into a branch of Freemasonry that is fundamentally different than all established Regular Free and Accepted Masonic Grand Lodges in the United States.

Thank you for taking the time to read this note.

With every best regard, I remain,
Fraternally,

Brother Joseph Netzel
Worshipful Master
Friendship Lodge #24 F & AM
Charlotte, Vermont.

Florida Mason Bro. Mark E. Kolitko-Rivera on his Masonic Blog  – Freemasonry: Reality, Myth, and Legend™

-has written a resolution that he will present to the next Florida Grand Session for repeal of Rule No 3. I hate to burst his bubble but the Grand Master is not going to allow that to get to the floor of a Grand Lodge Session.

But this brings out a larger overriding issue that The Beehive has been trumpeting for years now. And this is how can you have two totally different types of Freemasonry under one roof (Mainstream) in the same country? We have the progressive, philosophical Grand Lodges of The North and West versus the regressive, tyrannical Grand Lodges of the South and East. They are so radically different that one could say the other is not really practicing Freemasonry. You do not find this dichotomy in England or Canada or Australia nor even in Prince Hall here in the States. If you travel across Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia you will find that Freemasonry is just about the same wherever you go even though its ritual may differ. But a Mainstream Mason from California would be shocked at the way Masonry is practiced in West Virginia and a Mason in Arkansas would be shocked at the way Masonry is practiced in New York.

We have a big problem in American Freemasonry, namely racial and religious bigotry within the Fraternity. And the sad part is that nobody within Mainstream wants to do anything about it. They all cling to the tradition of not messing with somebody else’s business. Whatever another jurisdiction does it’s not for me to meddle with, they say. But it is. What one jurisdiction does reflects on the whole fraternity and right now a few Confederate Freemasons are giving Masonry a black eye. They are ruining it for everybody.

The Beehive calls this “States Rights Freemasonry.” Civilly States Rights as it applies to civil rights and basic human rights was over ridden by federal power when President Eisenhower sent troops into Little Rock. Then that “new way of thinking” was augmented by the work of Martin Luther King.

Perhaps today Mainstream American Freemasonry needs its own Eisenhower and Martin Luther King, men bold enough to initiate the change needed and damn all the rules and regulations that prohibit it.

Freemasonry wherever it exists in the United States, no matter the Obedience, has no right to abridge the Civil Rights and the First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution of its members.

There are a couple of solutions here that would not be hard to do. First any Progressive Grand Lodge that feels that another jurisdiction has violated the principles of Freemasonry and is practicing rogue or bogus Masonry can remove recognition of that jurisdiction. All it takes is some intestinal fortitude.

The second solution is one that addresses the seriously fractured operations of U.S. Freemasonry. While Canada has 10 Grand Lodges for its entire country the United States has 51. This opens our highly mobile society in the Information Age to too many fiefdoms of often feudal power making American Freemasonry indefinable.  There is no oneness, sameness or cohesiveness to it, no universality. Not even the Landmarks are uniform in Mainstream U.S. Freemasonry. There is no such thing as American Freemasonry. And that doesn’t cut it for this high tech, highly mobile, diverse, multicultural, giant of a nation we have become.

It would solve a lot of problems if Mainstream Masonry in the United States were to adopt some common structure, rules and practices. A National Constitution could accomplish these ends without giving up state sovereignty.

Many a Mason across the nation has been heard to lament that nothing seems to get done. Problems are being recognized and solutions offered but reforms never get passed. Meantime correctable situations go from bad to worse. The reason for this can be traced to the basic flaw in most jurisdictions of having just one year terms for Grand Masters. Grand Lodge officers spend years campaigning to get in line and then when they finally reach the pinnacle of power they become a lame duck leader 6 months after taking office. There is not enough continuity to institute any long range planning. There are too many struggles for political power and not enough programs for long term development. Becoming Grand Master becomes a feather in one’s cap, a prestigious accomplishment of honor and power, a badge to proudly display but not a means for long lasting good government.

Lodges with one year terms for Grand Masters tend to be governed by a cadre of Past Grand Masters. That’s where the real power lies. It is these leaders that choose the next Grand Master or the next entry into a progressive line.

The Beehive recommends that those Masons who are members of tyrannical, rogue Grand Lodges should add a dual membership with another Grand Lodge in the nation, preferably a progressive and enlightened Grand Lodge. Vermont would be a good choice, but there are others. In this manner Masons might be able to shield themselves from arbitrary expulsion at the whim of Grand Masters. Those Brethren in Arkansas, West Virginia, Florida and other Confederate Masonry need to have protection from their Grand Lodges. Dual or plural membership would be that safety valve although there is no guarantee that if your primary Grand Lodge expels you that your secondary Grand Lodge would not follow suit. But if the expulsion was not an egregious offense but rather a tyrannical excuse lacking merit, then it is hard to believe that a “fallback” Grand Lodge would do the same.

One thing is for sure, if Mainstream Masonry continues down the road it is going without making some major reforms it will self destruct. Many jurisdictions have only half the membership they had 20 years ago. American Freemasonry is wounded, bleeding and suffering. If it doesn’t swallow some medicine soon it will shrivel up and die, the remnants being only an idea on the Internet.

American Freemasonry would do well to heed the words of Abraham Lincoln.

June 16, 1858

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing or all the other.

American Mainstream Freemasonry must choose one way or the other. Will it be the White only, Christian only Freemasonry of the South and East or will it be the enlightened, progressive acceptance of diversity and universality of the North and West? Will it be Grand Masters who follow their Constitutions and open their Grand Lodges to shared government by consensus or will it be a Grand Lodge where the Grand Master is Pope and dictator who can thumb his nose at his Constitutions?

A Masonic House divided against itself cannot stand.

Sometimes in life you have to think outside the box no matter how long it has always been done one particular way.

 

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About Fred Milliken

Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and former Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.

Comments

  1. Bro. Fred,

    Would you mind if I quoted from this post on my blog. I am most interested in referencing the description of obstruction encountered by African American Freemasons in Florida. Thank you for your response.

    Frat. Eoghan Ballard

  2. Gerald Edgar says:

    Two quick observations:

    re: Number of Canadian GL’s vs. American GL.s’ Yes, Canada only has 10 GL’s whereas USA has 51 BUT Canada’s pop. (“12 est) is 35M whereas USA is 315M. In any statement of statistics, one must compare apples to apples

    re: “3 Fl PM’s indicate FL lodges discriminate against Masons from the other 50 American GL’s”. A serious charge indeed (if true). Well folks, this is America – literally the land of the free, home of the brave. I.E. a lot of Americans, Masons & otherwise, fought and died to give us the rights of Free Speech, Assembly, etc (and to maintain those rights) So brave American “Masons” – what is your name & Lodge affiliation? (if none are forthcoming we can assume the statement was a fabrication just as if I were to anonymously allege other serious Masonic charges AND without documentation). IF indeed the GL of Fl is aware of discriminatory practices AND also does not correct same (2 assumptions made without documented evidence), then past & present FL GL Officers will certainly not seek to discipline those who took part. Thus there is no reason for an American to remain anonymous unless he is fabricating or is concerned with being charged with slander. If there is some valid reason, please correct me – Florida in NOT part of Iran or No. Korea!
    Further, did any of these 3 alleged FL PM’s document their complaints to the GL of FL or bring up the issue at a GL session where any & all matters can be brought up by the assembled ‘blue’ lodge delegates? If one wishes to tout his membership in a fraternity that numbers George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Paul Jones, Ethan Allen, Davy Crockett, Admiral Farragut, Eddie Rickenbacher, Charles Lindberg, Omar Bradley, ‘Chesty’ Puller, Audie Murphy, Gerald Ford, et al, then one should have the comparative tiny, tiny bit of ‘courage’ to sign their name & lodge affiliation. Americans, especially American Masons, are not cowards! Again, correct me if my assumption is incorrect)

    Gerald A. Edgar (Vietnam Vet)
    Mosaic #125 AF&AM @ Dubuque, IA

  3. where any & all matters can be brought up by the assembled ‘blue’ lodge delegates?

    Are you for real? We have ample, if anecdotal, reports of various GMs gavelling down those who would say anything contrary to the GMs wishes, in numerous GLs in the US.

    if none are forthcoming we can assume the statement was a fabrication

    Again, I ask if you are for real.
    Fear of reprisals from GLs is a valid concern, and before you say, “So what, what can a GL do to a member but kick them out?” – yes, they can kick them out – meaning, for example, if they were members for life (having paid numerous years of dues in advance, as some GLs allow) they would lose all that money, as it’s non-refundable.

    So what if they get kicked out – only that it closes one of the better avenues for support in old age – Masonic homes.

    In short, Br. Edgar, just because YOU feel there’s no danger from coming forward doesn’t make that correct.

  4. Duke Bass Fortesque says:

    Well written and very thought provoking at the very least. It is my unqualified opinion that these growing issues have no single remedy. It may very well be that the Southern jurisdictions are beyond the point of no return when it comes to a simple innoculation of reason and logic. In leadership we were taught to lead men by example, discipline as neccessary, and remember to reconcile the individual back into the group and the group back with the individual through team building. Being a member a few other fraternities I understand brotherhood and the tennants of them. Historically fraternities live by a few axioms such as “we take care of our own,” “the least of us is still one of us,” & “the frat against the world never the frat against its own.” Perhaps I am an diot. granted I may be all wet and clueless. It is even possible that the other fraternities are all wrong in their belief of the tennants of brotherhood and that I am not comparing apples to apples. …but am I not still one of you? I may be the “least” of you but am I not still your brother? This brings me to a few uneducated postulations: Would not these understood universal (basic) tennants/ axioms of fraternity apply to me or what about applying to you? If so (and please correct me if I am wrong… I just may be), how about some positive peer pressure to correct or discipline your own? Could there be a measure of reconcilliation such balancing the scales of injustice with mercy and brotherly love by making concession, exception, or new policy to bring in your disenfranchised brothers in sensible and economical ways (One-day Masons, Mason on sight, week-end Mason, etc.)? Florida brothers are hurting and abandoned as they are strongly “encouraged” to resign, keep quite, and keep yourself off the radar if you want any facsimile of a hope to ever return to mainstream masonry. That doesnt sound like hope to me but rather a clever way of crushing a man so that he will not defend his own name and honor. hope… this sort of hope is not hope at all but a fantasy of the mind to keep a good man sitting by the phone “wishing” for a phone call that injustices are reversed and restrablishment is possible. An analogy of this comes from my grandfather: “It is easy for a man to put out of his mind the hunger of the humbled when he sits in feast at his own table.” It is also easy for good men to sit in lodge and not give a passing thought of his brothers who are wrongfully not admitted to do so themselves. There are real life solutions to all of this but it will not come from a single action alone but rather by the many hands of the craft at large each lending a little piece of the puzzling solution to the mix. Everyone may be sitting around looking at everyone else to do something, to say something, to initiate something. But I fear ego, status, or emotional lethargy are the dowsers to the little flicking flames of true hope that ignite here and there, never having a chance to come to full blaze. In conclusion of my soap-box rant, advise, plea, or whatever you may think of it I offer this: This is the “Elvis” moment in the history in the making for American Freemasonry, What we need is a little less talk and a lot more action.

    postscript: If I have all of this wrong, feel free to educate me on it so that it makes sense to me as to why I should just walk away from Freemasonry never to look back. I welcome a good reason to.

    Thank you for your valuable time and energies regarding this important matter.

    Fraternally yours,
    Duke

  5. Freemasons in repressive, dictatorial, tyrannical Grand Lodges don’t stand up in protest for the same reason North Koreans don’t stand up in protest of their government. If they do what is going on in Syria is a good example of what can happen to you.

    This is where theory and realty don’t meet – right there in the Masonic world of the practicing Freemason. You can quote all the theory you want but come try living Freemasonry with the plebeian realists.

  6. If they do what is going on in Syria is a good example of what can happen to you.

    While I agree with you that there IS fear in those GLs, I also think your rhetoric is a little overblown – no Mason is in physical danger of being taken out by goons with guns, are they?

    I support your stances, but when you take hyperbole too far, you lose a number people who would otherwise support you.

    That being said, as I pointed out, getting in trouble with a GL isn’t without some potential material consequences.

    Are WV and OH still not in amity?

  7. I’m glad to see this article continuing the discussion. As a Florida Mason, I am frustrated there is no coordinated effort to oppose R&D #3. I’m 26, educated, passionate about Masonry, and feel destroyed by this action. I want a Masonic future. I’ve done what I can to oppose it, which amounts to little as one voice; and frankly I am jealous of my Northern Brothers. Brother J Netzel has done a wonderful thing. Conversely, I am ashamed of my Masonic leaders.

    I’ve contemplated resignation as I fear expulsion. But, the dues card is a powerful tool – I want to travel. It’s that simple. I travel often and love to visit other Masonic Lodges. Other than that, in the current predicament, I have retired to my Mental Lodge.

    The answer to the Florida debacle is very simple – withdraw recognition. The Bee Hive said it, lots of Brothers have said it. Other GL’s should admonish this behavior! I’ve been perplexed from the day this news broke; why has this not happened? Other Brothers here (and on the Landmark Restoration Facebook Community) have pointed out – what about the race issues? Yes, this is an issue in 2012. It’s disgusting. This could also be resolved by withdrawing recognition and forcing us to correct ourselves or suffer the consequences of being irregular.

  8. This could also be resolved by withdrawing recognition and forcing us to correct ourselves or suffer the consequences of being irregular.

    I think it’s unlikely to happen.

    PGMs in other states have indicated they support the ruling.

    The other GLs have done NOTHING regarding recognition to those who do not recognize PHA – yet they can suspend recognition to Minnesota in a heartbeat, and suspend DC over opening a Lodge in Lebanon.

    In short, the mainstream GLs will not do anything to each other over any serious issues, only the trivial ones, because it’s go along to get along.

    Don’t piss off NY, PA or MI.

    Meanwhile, don’t suggest doing what DC did – enact a blanket PHA recognition decision that takes effect whenever another GL recognizes their PHA counterparts … nope, the forms must be obeyed, the younger GL must petition the older GL, and ONLY through the proper channels, or it doesn’t count.

  9. @MP I agree – it is unlikely. As you mention, it would (and should) have already happened regarding the PHA issue. Admittedly, I’m a Romantic.

  10. Gerald Edgar says:

    I see a lot of initials or nicknames but no real names, lodge affiliations or locations. Lots of anecdotal evidence? Again, let’s read names, lodge affiliations, locations, dates, places, etc. (and with even the most mundane matters, if an individual Masonic delegate to a GL session feels he will be ignored he can place his action in due form and have it presented as a proposed action by his Lodge – most if not all American GL’s allow legislation to be filed by a lodge (or lodges) and/or individual Masons. If something is truly important it’s not that hard to find several Lodges to co-sponsor some action.
    As for fear of ID’ing oneself because they might lose their Life Dues, sounds like a VERY minor “cost” relative to the hoped for good much less the real risk of loss of life & limb in service for one’s country!

    Gerald Edgar (Viet Vet – 6921st Scty Grp & 28th Bomb Wing – USAF “70-74)
    Mosaic #125 AF&AM @ Dubuque, IA Grand Lodge of Iowa, AF&AM
    (PM of 3 Lodges within universally recognized GL’s; NONE clandestine or irregular

    PS – I ‘know’ some Masonic Lodges practice cannibalism but I cannot share names/dates/locations of ANY evidence as I might lose my Pre-paid Dues, be imprisoned and shot (a little sarcasm in the tradition of Bro. Samuel Clemens)

  11. AS much as I hate to defend the Grand Lodge of Florida, the claim that a black man is not allowed in a tiled lodge is not completely accurate. In SOUTH Florida there are a number of black men who are Masons and some have been installed as Worshipful Master.

    NOTE – I said SOUTH Florida. There is a tremendous disconnect between the Brothers in South Florida and the less tolerant and more backward good ole’ boys in the northern part of the state.

  12. Again, let’s read names, lodge affiliations, locations, dates, places, etc.

    NO!

    Having been threatened with expulsiuon from Freemasonry over my religion once, I’m not willing to risk it again.

    It must be nice to sit in a fully protected status, knowing you aren’t the sort who would ever be targeted for being different.

    And, then, as typical for so many Masonic old timers, the touting of veterans’ credentials, because that makes you more understanding of real threats.

    I’m a combat vet, too.

    But when I see, online, PGMs agreeing with the ruling from the GM of Florida, I don’t think there is any safety in being open, for those impacted directly by these situations.

    If something is truly important it’s not that hard to find several Lodges to co-sponsor some action.

    Obviously that’s not true, or none of the GLs which don’t yet recognize their PHA counterparts would still be recognized by those who do.
    Racism is the source of that lack of recognition by those southern GLs, and intranigence/cowardice is the source of the inaction on the part of the other GLs.

    But, go ahead, continue to stick your head in the sand and think it’s all perfect, because no one is willing to post their names.

    I mean, there’s no chance a GM would have ever thrown Corey Bryson and Duke Fortesque out the Grand Lodge, amirite?

  13. After all:
    Free advice is worth what you pay for it
    No generalization is worth a damn, including this one.

  14. I also agree with the point being made that the dues card is a very powerful thing and I enjoyed visiting other lodges due to work-related travel. This ruling by the GM was the final straw on a very heavy pile I have been dealing with. I don’t want to air out to much laundry, but Florida Masonry has been in a decline due to the people at the top. They don’t make GMs like MW Lynn anymore and its a shame.

    Before anyone says it – it takes a great deal of money to get to the Grand South. You have to travel everywhere to “introduce” yourself. Notice I said introduce because electioneering is illegal in FL (although somehow past DDGMs and PMs somehow miraculously get elected to the East). Once you make it to the Grand South it is just a matter of waiting your wait to the Grand East because the only real election is for the Grand South. The line then ascends by “acclamation” and there isn’t a thing a Brother can do to stop it because the GM can wrap the gavel and kill the microphone.

    My 2.5 cents

  15. @Gerald

    Hi Brother and fellow Airman,

    That’s easily said looking in safely from Iowa. Your Brothers in Florida are facing wrongful expulsion for their religious beliefs. Moreover, your name and lodge number have no relevance to undoing the wrong in Florida. If you wanted to contribute to that, you may find your pen in better use writing your thoughts to the Grand Lodge of IA. I would be thankful for you to do so.

    My name or lodge number likewise won’t revoke this edict. With that said, publishing personal details will not drive the discussion that we’re here to have.

    If you want to know more about me, you can click my initials and see my blog. It has my letter to the GM, various links, quotes, and Masonic (among other occult, esoteric, etc) art.

  16. @MP

    “I mean, there’s no chance a GM would have ever thrown Corey Bryson and Duke Fortesque out the Grand Lodge, amirite?” That sums it up well.

    Brother, would you point me to the online comments by PGM’s agreeing with R&D #3?

  17. The request for names and Lodges sounds like an attempt to do what a Westchester, New York publication did when it published the name and address of every person in the county who had legally registered a gun.

  18. @MP

    Thanks, I had to read his comment several times to believe that it was real.

    I doubt this person could have a 30 second conversation pertaining to, say, the difference between Gnosticism and Agnosticism. “Pagan = Satan” is a sad, sad conclusion.

  19. Gerald Edgar says:

    There appears to be a little paranoia among some responders (or perhaps they are not Masons and just wish to poison the water so to speak?)
    I’ve been a delegate (as WM, SW, JW or proxy) to a dozen GL sessions in IA & IL and an observer in MN (I write for their LEO). I’ve spoken to devisive issues such as one day classes, alcohol in Temples, lowering Petitioning age to 18, etc. I’ve observed a ‘line’ officer not automatically advanced as a majority of delegates chose an alternate and witnessed withdrawal of recognition of GL’s both here & abroad. In no case was anyone vilified, suspended, etc (and of course each has to clearly state their name & Lodge affiliation when speaking) Feelings were hurt, yes but at the end of the day there was no gulag. If you want to be seriously considered in any debate you must have the courage to accept applause AND brickbats. (Bro. Truman spoke to this issue) As for ‘old timers’ – my son, a P.E. in his early 30′s and my Dad, a 93 yr old WWII vet share the same viewpoint i.e. courage of ones opinion and not hiding in the shadows (all 3 Sr. DeMolays as well as Masons). Guess that puts me in the middle. So folks, prove you are Masons. I will take ‘AK’ up on his offer & see if his blog ID’s him as a Brother, a clandestine Mason or a profane. I don’t have a blog but my name appears in a number of Illinois & Iowa GL Proceedings. What is the most repetitious aspect of Freemasonry? LIGHT!

    And not that it matters but I’m a gun owner but so what, this is America not (fill in the blank).

  20. Sorry, Gerald, your insults and ad hominem attacks will do no good here.

    You point out, likely correctly, that you have seen no problems with GMs abusing their powers.

    How about Arizona, Arkansas, and New York, to start off with?
    GMs expelling other Masons without ANY TRIAL.

    These things have been discussed ad nauseam, but because they didn’t happen to you, they must not have happened, and there’s no danger to anyone that they might be expelled from Freemasonry?

    Must be nice to be so privileged.

    In that case, why don’t YOU, as someone who has addressed divisive issues in GL setting, put forth proposed Masonic Legislation saying that those GLs which haven’t yet recognized their PHA counterparts be immediately removed from recognition by YOUR GL?

  21. Brother Gerald, all I see you writing are your personal accolades. You aren’t contributing positively to the problem we’re here to challenge, R&D #3.

    If you insist on identifying me as a Brother, you will find a photo of me and MWGM Jorge Aladro shaking hands in lodge. I have addressed him personally with a letter including my name, lodge, etc. I share this because you seem to be hung up on the anonymity of this ONE particular forum.

    I’m glad you’ll take the offer to read my blog, I hope you enjoy it. Please also take my offer to contact your Grand Lodge about R&D #3. If you’d like, I’ll even post it as a thank you!

  22. Gerald Edgar says:

    For the benefit of readers who are not a) lawyers or b) took Latin in H.S.
    “ad hominem” means against the person as opposed to against the argument. A good example are your comments re: various GM’s. In my case, its hard to be “against a person” when nearly all are anonymous. It’s also hard to dispute an undocumented statement without questioning the source (person) who submits it as ‘evidence’.

    Then throw in a red herring, inuendo, etc. I do not recall stating I have not seen a GM abuse his authority (in most GL’s there are means within said GL by-laws to address same; this happens not infrequently) nor do I see me stating previously that if something did not happen to me it did not happen. From my 1st post, my central argument is where is the documentation? I won’t just tell you Geo. Washington was a Mason if that is not a generally accepted fact without citing all the hard evidence.

    And lastly divert attention to the question (something national political figures do frequently) by telling the questioner “you must do this…”. Whether I sponsor a resolution in my GL has nothing to do with whether you or others are providing documented facts or heresay (another good legal term; it’s not admissible!)

    A good debate is a wonderful thing, indeed it can be postive Masonic Ed in this case but there are rules: agreement as to definitions of terms, citatations, etc. There are some excellent books by noted Masonic scholars on, for example, recongition of PHA or other GL’s vs. exclusive jurisdiction; a right most GL’s have practiced for centuries.

  23. In my case, its hard to be “against a person” when nearly all are anonymous.

    Actually right there, when you continue to discount anything posted by those who will not identify themselves to your satisfaction, you are in fact arguing against a person – you are attacking everything they say based on the fact that they won’t comport themselves the way you want them to.

    As for your talk about admissibility, that would be nice, were this a court of law.

    But, it’s not – it’s a blog. And thus, we don’t have to adhere to rules of admissibility.

    then one should have the comparative tiny, tiny bit of ‘courage’ to sign their name & lodge affiliation. Americans, especially American Masons, are not cowards!

    So, evidently, to you, if we feel there are legitimate reasons to expect reprisals from our GLs (which, of course, should be NO problem, after all: in most GL’s there are means within said GL by-laws to address same (not all, however, and thus some brothers have NO recourse against GL reprisals)) and thus choose to refrain from posting our affiliations, we must be cowards – from this, you utterly discount anything we have to say.

    However, anyone could claim to be Gerald Edgar on the internet.

  24. Gerald Edgar says:

    “anyone could claim to be Gerald Edgar on the internet” – yes they could but you have been given plenty of means to verify who I am (and this is a problem with all electonic communications unless secure with password, etc).

    Also, I qualify my statements (i.e/ have not read all 51 American GL By-laws) by saying ‘most’ – perhaps better I say “I do not know of any that do not provide means of redressing grievances”

    As for ‘heresay & admissibility’ I related these to how one ‘proves’ a statement. Do you expect anyone should accept the ‘fact’ that am anonymour person states on-line that Masons are cannibals without some documented evidence?

    I could go on butg that appears not to be any effort to have a reasoned debate. It might very well be all your statements about the GL of Fl, etc are the God-given truth BUT given anonymously with heresay they do not have a great deal of credence.

  25. As for ‘heresay & admissibility’ I related these to how one ‘proves’ a statement. Do you expect anyone should accept the ‘fact’ that am anonymour person states on-line that Masons are cannibals without some documented evidence?

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    The suggestion that GMs are booting Masons without trial, however, is not extraordinary.

    Consider how extraordinary the idea is that a sitting GM would issue such an edict as Aladro did … we have the proof, we have seen it.

    Now, people are suggesting that it’s being implemented without trial – is that an extraordinary claim? Not likely.

    We saw that the GL of Arkansas, in response to issues over what one Brother published on a Lodge webpage, information which was published on OTHER Lodge webpages, linked from the GL of Arkansas’ own webpage, expelled a Brother for violating the Masonic laws of Arkansas (for publishing that information), and then took down their own webpage.

    The evidence is already documented that these sort of things have happened, numerous times, in the GLs which are being discussed.

    Therefore, I, and others, feel that these suggestions of GMs acting like tyrants are no longer extraordinary claims.

  26. ronald chasteen says:

    MY NAME IS RONALD CHASTEEN—I WAS A MEMBER OF LODGE NO. 21—AND WESTERN GROVE LODGE 165 OF NEWTON COUNTY ARKANSAS—-WHILE I WAS GONE TO FLA VISITING MY AGED MOTHER–I EXPOLICE OFFICER G.L. DISTRIC DEPUTY– 3— POLICE OFFICERS –3 –POLITICIANS–3POLICE OFFICERS THAT I HAD LECTURED AND GOT INTO THE LODGES HIGHESR OFFICES–FILED CHARGES ON ME—GRIN—NUMBER OF BULL CRAP–MAINLY THEY FOUND OUT G.L. DID NOT LIKE ME—SO WITH THE HELP OF G.L. NOT MUCH OF A PROUBLEM TO KIKE ME OUT—NO I DID NOT GO TO THE UNMASONIC TRIAL AT 21–MY COP BROTHERS CARRY THERE GUNS IN LODGE–PEPER SPRAY ECT—MY LAWYER—THE MAYER OF JASPER—HE DID NOT SHOW UP TO READ MY LETTER I WROTE TO THE LODGE—HE FORGOT LODGE THAT NIGHT–YEA RIGHT—WHEN YOUR DENIED A TRIAL BY GRAND LODGE—GUESS WHAT—THEY CAN TELL ALL KINDS OF LIES ON YOU AFTER ALL YOUR NOT THERE TO SAY—YOUR A WRONG–TO MP—WENT TO A BIRTHDAY PARTY—BROTHER 100 YEARS OLD—ONE OF THE DEPUTYS TRYED TO SHAKE MY HAND—TOLD HIM TO GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME—GRIN BEFORE I LEFT THE MASTER OF THE LODGE ASK ME—STILL RIDING YOUR BIKE—2 MINUTES LATER–THE DEPUTY ASK ME—STILL RIDING YOUR BIKE—GRIN–I WAS A BELIVER AT ONE TIME MYSELF SO DONT WORRY—IT WILL COME TO A LOT OF US LATER ON—BY THE WAY I BOUGHT A PHL TAG FOR MY CAR—ONLY PERSON IN THE COUNTY THAT DID—NO IM NOT A COWARD—AND IM SURE WILL NEVER BE A RECONIZED MASON—BUT GOD KNOWS ME AND IM MORE PROUDE OF THAT THAN THE COWARD OF FREEMASONRY—

  27. I do not know of any that do not provide means of redressing grievances

    There is no recourse for any Brother in Florida who is expelled because of Ruling and Decision #3.

    We have already seen evidence that, if a Brother chooses to disagree with it, and say, in his letter expressing such disagreement, that he is choosing to suspend his affiliation with the GL until the edict is reversed, that he will be expelled without trial.

    What more evidence do you need?

  28. Such endless and pointless Pseudo debate, invoking cannibals and making much ado about anonymity are simply devices, all too often used, to deflect attention from the real issue. That issue will not go away or be ignored, no matter what sort of subterfuge you use in your attempts to throw distractions in the way of needed change.

  29. PUBLIC FACT: http://www.glflamason.org/documents/Monthly%20Mail/11-Nov/2012/3%20Grand%20Master's%20Ruling%20and%20Decision%20No%20%203%20Religion.pdf

    May I suggest we move the discussion? Referenced in the article is Bro. Mark E. Kolitko-Rivera’s petition. If you are a Florida Mason – you have one more day to print, sign, and mail it tomorrow.

    If you are not a Florida Mason, and understand why R&D3 is wrong, I suggest writing to your Grand Lodge.

  30. I agree with Gerald Edgar, too many American Masons have allowed their fears to become their god. Secrecy may save you from your Grand Master, but it will never save you from your self.

  31. Big words, Jeff, from someone kicked out of a GL – you of all people should know how much trouble a GM can make for the average brother.

    Your tune has changed in the last few years, from one of righteous indignation at your treatment by a GM, to now calling men who choose to stay in the system, work for change from the inside, cowards.

  32. HT/mp

  33. Gerald and Jeff – I’m a Florida Mason and Gnostic. Shall I give my name and Lodge number to you? Maybe you are completely oblivious to what’s happened of late, but don’t be silly. Many choose to work from within against Ruling and Decision No. 3. It’s trivial to chastise someone for making an anonymous post…welcome to the Internet…

  34. Well it’s aperent the GM of Florida has decided to play the role of St Patrick, and drive the snakes out of the GL of Florida. If ya got the boot or the squeeze, then don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya on your way out the door Douchbag!

  35. James Morgan says:

    As a Prince Hall Mason I am disappointed that all this stuff is still going on. These kind of policies are killing Freemasonry.

  36. Brother Rose, you raise another good point; there is quite a bit of time and money invested into obtaining the office. Many qualified candidates aren’t considered.

    I think this goes back to a point from the article. There are so many more Masonic bodies producing excellent literature and research, and they are not here in the South. Just to name a few: Brazen Serpent Publishing, Phoenix Masonry Inc, and the Philalethes Society. I’m not saying Florida has no talented, dedicated, or learned Brothers; but we have nothing compared to the edifices in the North and West. Instead of striving for Masonic excellence, we degrade ourselves, which is fully apparent in R&D3 and the PH issue.

    I would even SPECULATE to say that many of the “Non-Christian” Brothers GM Aladro is targeting are far more advanced theologically than the average attendee at the Fish Fry.

  37. John Shroeder says:

    Firstly, I don’t believe that Mackey would stand behind pagans, wicans, odinists, wotans, etc. being Masons as I am confident that at that time he had in mind monotheistic religions within the Judao-Christian tradition which use the Holy Bible or Torah as the rule and guide of their faith. The religions you refer to are largely polytheistic, schismatic, and continuously evolving as you may or may not realize. Many Grand Lodges have lost track of their philosophical and religious histories while some are very close to those traditions.

    Secondly, not all Grand Lodges recognize any given list of Landmarks, partly because to recognize some listing of Landmarks implies the ability to add to or subtract from ancient guiding Landmarks which is prohibited, so quoting Landmarks to justify or deny the validity of the decisions of some Grand Lodge is not a compelling argument.

    If you accept the ancestry of Freemasonry as descending from the ancient craft Lodges within Britain, then you may know that it started as a Trinitarian Christian fraternity which held a tolerance for others and has successively broadened its scope to admit others who adhere to a monotheistic religion. Certainly, some have been initiated who did not fully adhere to these guidelines but they are basically the minority. In the Scandinavian Grand Lodges, Christianity is still the primary and nearly sole religious belief of its members. (Incidentally, since you addressed the issue of attitude toward other than caucasians, were you aware that Odinism is usually a justification for white supremacy?)

  38. Odinism is usually a justification for white supremacy

    Funny, I thought that was the entire purpose of the Christian Identity movement.

  39. Brother Shroeder you conveniently leave out a lot. First of all from the ancient charges of Anderson’s Constitutions comes this admonition:

    But though in ancient Times Masons were charg’d in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ’tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain’d at a perpetual Distance.”

    In Canada and many other places in the world the 3 great lights are the Volume of Sacred Law, Square and Compass.

    Personally I know a number of Wiccans some of whom are Masosn and they do believe in a Supreme God. The Odinist, Duke Fortesque, who was forced to resign as well as Corey Bryson said they accepted one Supreme Being and signed onto acceptance of the Great Architect of the Universe, who is by the way named to cover all religions.

    Many jurisdictions only require a belief in Deity not monotheism.

    Your characterizing Pagans as always polytheistic is just plain wrong. Deists and Gnostics surely are not and they made up some of the early Freemasons who founded this nation.

    There are more versions of Landmarks out there than just MacKey’s. In Mainstream it is true that Landmarks vary from Grand Lodge to Grand Lodge and some have none but the tenets tend to be written into the by-laws and Constitutions of Grand Lodges.

    In Lodges in India you can find at the same time Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Jains, and Buddhists all sitting side by side. There are five Volumes of the Sacred Law on the altar., The Bhagvad Gita for the Hindus, The Qur’an for the Muslims, The Avesta for the Parsis or Zoroaastrians, The Bible for the Christians and Jews and The Granth Sahib for the Sikhs. If this does not cover the field a candidate may bring his own book of Faith.

    Lodge Singapore has seven VOSL on the altar adding to the five of India the Tanach for Hebrews and The Dhammapadra for the Mahay-ana sect of Buddists. Some of the other VOSLs around the world include The Book of Certitude for the Bahai Faith, The Shang Ti or “Heavenly Ruler” for Confucianism, and Providence for Deism.

  40. The Masonic Institution’s goal is not interpret religion. That’s why it’s simple – do you believe in Deity, or not. The only allowable exclusion is atheism.

    Demographically most Freemasons are Christians, but Freemasonry is not a product of Christianity. Gnosticism and Alchemy are far more prevalent idealogoies. Not to mention the Hiramic Legend’s connection to Egyptian and Sumerian dramas.

  41. AK, it seems there’s no longer any point to discussion of that issue, as it is going to continue to result in arguments where no one will come to agreement. I’m gald there are GLs which have already touched on this issue, and decided in favor of Brothers who, were they in Florida, would be impacted by R&D #3.

    I’m done with the discussions of all of this – it’s like teaching a pig to sing.

  42. MP, I feel the same way but I can’t free my mind of it.

    I wasn’t aware of any other GLs actually responding to the issue. On my blog, I’ve been linking as many sources as I can find. If you have anything else for me, I’d really like to read more.

  43. AK – I won’t get into it on a public blog, and there’s no “contact me” link on your page.

  44. MP – Of course, I wouldn’t expect that. On my blog you can click “Ask, and it shall be given you” and I won’t publish the question. Or my Twitter handle is @MasonicTweeter.

  45. Done, just had to set up another social media account, which I was NOT wanting to do.

  46. I dislike dishonesty greatly, and your contrast of Canada’s 10 Grand Lodges vs. the USA’s 51 Grand Lodges is dishonest. Canada has 10 grand Lodges. Canada has TEN PROVINCES. The USA has 51 Grand Lodges. The USA has 50 states and one non-state local government entity. Therefore, Canada and the USA are actually organized in a very similar fashion to each other in regard to number of Grand Lodges. Why did you not point that out immediately upon mentioning the difference in the numbers of Grand Lodges between the two? Likewise, the rough average of population vs Grand Lodges in Canada is 3.4 million people/GL. In the USA, the rough average is 31 million people/GL. Thus, it only makes sense demographically for the USA to have more GL than does Canada.

    Imposition of a single, centralized “Ultra-Grand Lodge” over the USA would not be any solution at all. The more concentrated power becomes, the worse the effects of venal men will be. Disunity in governance permits dissipation of error. After all, what guarantee would there be that this “Ultra-Grand Lodge of the USA” could never end up under the control of the very forces you denounce? The more powerful and centralized any leadership, the more tyrannical it will ultimately become. If the checks upon GL leadership fail in states like Florida, what titanium-clad guarantee would there be that there would be no such failure within an “Ultra-Grand Lodge of the USA”?

    Let us extend your argument completely. Using your argument, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREEMASONRY! After all, what single entity has the unquestionable authority to speak for all of Freemasonry, worldwide? Who rules England, Scotland, Germany, the USA, Mexico, Canada, Japan, the Philippines, and all other places where there are Lodges? Nobody. Therefore, according to your reasoning, Freemasonry does not exist merely because there is no authoritarian body dictating policy top-down to everyone.

  47. No dishonesty or attempt to deceive here. I assumed everybody with a 6th grade education knows that Canada has fewer Provinces than the United States has States. But no matter what basis is used to make the point the fact is that 51 Grand Lodges in one country are too many. It fractures Freemasonry into two many fiefdoms that can grow apart. No other country in the world has 51 Grand Lodges.

    I said nothing about a National Grand Lodge. You need to go back and reread the article. I did say it would be nice if Grand Lodges could find some commonality in practice and rules best done by a Constitution. But I was careful to acknowledge no encroachment on jurisdictional sovereignty. A Constitution is not a National Grand Lodge. And as I envisioned it signing on would be purely voluntary.

    Neither did I expect or wish for a Supreme World Masonic Authority. But you might consider Freemasonry in England, Scotland, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere as more homogeneous and less parochial then here in the United States.

    My thoughts were that it would be nice if we all could come together voluntarily for some common purposes and practices. That does not translate into the diatribe of distortion you have ranted.

    And there is no excuse for ad hominem attacks.

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