The Beehive presents an interview with Duke Bass Fortesque. This is being presented as opinions of Fortesque and The Beehive, not as fact. Names of the Lodge and any other Florida Masons have been deliberately omitted. Freemason Information welcomes a rebuttal from either the Master of the Lodge or the Grand Master or both and will publish them if submitted.
Those who have been following the Florida Masonic story have read the problem through the eyes of Corey Bryson. But Bryson was only coming to the aid of his friend going through the degrees with him, Duke Bass Fortesque. Bryson kept a low profile and nobody really knew what his faith was until he spoke up in Lodge to correct misinformation in an interrogation of Fortesque. It was then that Bryson revealed that he was a Pagan/Deist and therefore could speak with authority on the subject that he got into trouble.
Fortesque, meanwhile was in trouble already. Fortesque had already come out as an Odinist and he had gone through lengthy questioning of his religious beliefs by the Investigating Committee and others in the Lodge.
The whole religious turmoil was set off by Fortesque’s first degree instructor. He had a problem with Fortesque because he had a personal problem with Pagan religions. “The instructor screamed at me,” said Fortesque. “He disparaged my religion and my wife and her religion (Wiccan).”
“It’s people like you that are responsible for the breakup of my marriage,” yelled the instructor pointing his finger in Fortesque’s face. “Good luck becoming a Master Mason.”
“He was like a Rottweiler who broke his chain,” noted Fortesque.
Fortesque reported the incident up the chain of command leading to a number of phone conversations with the Master of the Lodge, some of them lasting from midnight to 3:00 AM. Fortesque kept asking for a solution to the outburst, while the Master kept grilling him on his beliefs.
“I just asked for an apology,” he said. That’s all he wanted, nothing more, nothing less. To think this whole mess could have been solved by a timely, simple apology from the instructor.
Meanwhile the instructor did call Fortesque and apologize personally but not publicly.
Finally in one of the last marathon phone calls with the Master, the Master offered to bring Fortesque into open Lodge to explain that the whole situation had been resolved, that he was mistaken and it never really happened.
“You want me to diminish my reputation to save this instructor,” asked Fortesque?
“Yes,” replied the Master
That was not unheard of in the Masonic world. When an old timer steps out of line with a brand new Mason, the Lodge will often support the seasoned Masonic veteran. Not that it is right, but it’s done. But Fortesque was not going to knuckle under.
A friend connected him to the Grand Master via the Grand Secretary.
Fortesque explained to the Grand Master the situation that had occurred. The Grand Master, acting as if he already knew the whole story, told Fortesque – OK complaint lodged. But then he said something very bizarre.
“You have a comic book religion,” the Grand Master told Fortesque. “You don’t have to get there (Master Mason). Masonry is a Slurpee, you can get it at 7-11, “ continued the Grand Master.
The Grand Master then proceeded to interrogate Fortesque. He asked him where his soul goes. Then he told him, “You don’t have a Holy Book. The Great Light is the Holy Bible, that’s why we are Christian only.”We just try, he said, “to be tolerant of other faiths.”
Fortesque retorted, “Why do you have to ask me about my religion. I have survived the petition process, multiple interviews, five background checks, home studies and a ton of questions. I’m not here to change anybody. I’m here to be one of you.”
The Grand Master flatly said “We don’t allow comic book religions. Technically you qualify for Masonry but you should consider resigning and finding another place to get your fraternal kicks, somewhere else better suiting your kind of people.”
Now here is demonstrated for all to see the little mind of the Christian Fundamentalist Freemason. The Brother has a COMIC BOOK RELIGION says the little mind. GET YOUR FRATERNAL KICKS SOMEWHERE ELSE BETTER SUITING YOUR KIND OF PEOPLE. Now isn’t that the embodiment of Masonic tolerance? Doesn’t that just demonstrate how universal Freemasonry is?
MASONRY IS A SLURPEE says the little mind again. Now how’s that for the essence of Masonic knowledge and esoteric thought?
But that’s not all folks! Here comes the kicker.
That religious edict released by the Grand Master of Florida was not the only edict to come from him. Some months back he issued an edict that stated that if you associated with Prince Hall Masons, if you had a picnic or BBQ with them or attended any function outside the Lodge with them, if you even talked to them, then you would be automatically expelled. This goes way beyond Masonic Communication and Masonic Discourse which is already prohibited. Already on the books in Florida, says Fortesque, is the ruling that if you attend a Lodge out of state where they recognize Prince Hall and if there is a Prince Hall Mason in attendance you must get up and leave immediately or be expelled. And if there is a Prince Hall Mason there and you don’t know it you also will be expelled.
This comes on the heels of information from Georgia where four Mainstream Masons were secretly expelled for talking to Prince Hall Masons – talking like, “How’s the weather?” See the source here.
Fortesque was going to go ahead and remain anyway but somewhere between “technically you qualify” and a couple of days afterwards the Grand Master decided to rule that all Pagan religions were banned.
The Junior Warden, a lawyer, drew up an official letter of resignation where it was stated that he did not meet one of the perquisites to be a Freemason. Yet the Lodge refused to give Fortesque his money back.
Fortesque was only 5 days away from a Master Mason. He pleaded with the Lodge to let him be raised as a Master Mason and that if he did he would resign right afterward. But the answer was no, resign now or be expelled automatically.
Fortesque had a dream, a dream where he was going through the steps of his Grandfather’s rise to 32nd degree Freemason and that along each step of the way he connected to his beloved Grandfather. If he could be raised to the degree of Master Mason and be allowed to resign perhaps he could apply to another state for acceptance and thus continue his dream.
“The Grand Master prejudicated my expulsion, “says Fortesque. “He wanted to be sure I could not petition elsewhere in Freemasonry.”
And here we have the essence of the little minded Fundamentalist Freemason. For you see its one thing to prohibit a certain belief system in your Grand Lodge but it’s another to stick it to the one you do not want to make sure he cannot apply anywhere else. It’s one thing not to recognize another Grand Lodge and prohibit your members to sit in a tyled Communication with them. It’s another to expel them for saying hello in the grocery store.
This vindictiveness, this thought that I have to bury you, shun you, spit on you, curse you and hurt you because you do not agree with me is something that is tearing this country apart. And it is something that not only doesn’t belong in Freemasonry, it is something that Freemasonry is supposed to be above, to have solved, to have created a society where men of different religions, politics, creeds, cultures and economic status can coexist peacefully in a Lodge under the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
Fortesque, an admitted Odinist & Tribalist, is now getting linked to White Supremacy. That’s a way for his detractors to spread hurtful rumors about him. “I am about family and community,” answers Fortesque as he rejects any connection with any kind of discrimination, especially White Supremacy. Anybody that knows him realizes that this is just a cheap shot.
VENGENCE IS MINE says the Grand Master. And vengeance he got for Corey Bryson and Duke Fortesque resigned from Freemasonry together.
After resigning they held court on the front steps of their Lodge for 3 ½ hours. “No one could refute what we had to say,” reports Fortesque. “We made our case every time.”
But none would stand up for them, either. “I have to believe what I am told,” said many a Brother of the Lodge. “I have to follow my Grand Master.”
Fortesques says of that, “They are all in self preservation.” And he doesn’t feel any anger towards the Brothers who are staying and knuckling under. He just wishes another jurisdiction would offer to take him in. He just longs to continue his dream.
There remains but a couple of observations to be made about this whole nasty business.
First, those who filled the comments section on the previous articles with tsk, tsk corrections that the Grand Master of Florida had nothing racial to say so how dare I attribute such characteristics to him, I don’t want to hear it. As I have reported previously in Confederate Masonry anti Black and Christian only go hand in hand. The Grand Master of Florida demonstrates this quite readily. But he is not the only one. Talk to the Mainstream Grand Masters of Georgia, West Virginia and Arkansas among others and you will get the same spiel. Yet doesn’t it seem very incongruous that the Black Christian God and the White Christian God aren’t the same in the eyes of these Grand Masters?
Too many Brothers have been armchair quarterbacks, interpreting each individual incident rather than connecting the dots of all the developments. As The Beehive has said before, we need to learn the lessons of Mike McCabe, Gate City Lodge No 2, Frank Haas and Derek Gordon. We need to see the big picture and stop running around with blinders on.
Secondly we need to reiterate once more that Grand Lodges are out of control and that Masons caught in the throes of rogue regimes are powerless to halt the tyrannical use of Grand Lodge power. Grand Lodges today are no longer even bothering to obey their Constitutions and By-Laws.
American Mainstream Masonry must find a way to discipline itself or wither and die on the vine because today’s younger generation and today’s seekers looking for peace and harmony in a righteous setting, a purpose for living and a way to look at life that is uplifting and meaningful, will not join an organization with racial and religious discrimination. It’s as simple as that. Think about it.