It had to happen sooner or later. It was only a matter of time. All the racism, homophobia, regulations reminiscent of the US Army, the jockeying for power, the behind the scenes maneuvering, “the smoke filled rooms,’ elections that are a sham, dictatorial tyranny, expulsions without a Masonic trial, pulling of Lodge charters and closing down Lodges for no good reason, refusal to Recognize, withdrawals of Recognition, muzzling of Masonic intercourse, charges of irregularity and clandestine activity, Grand Lodges stealing local Lodge’s property and assets, the blackballing of expelled Masons from every Grand Lodge in the world, secret ballots that kept out blacks but let in the KKK, Freemasonry hijacked by Christian only Masons in some quarters and by secular Masons in other quarters. It seems to mimic our civil politics where one special interest group vies for control and funds versus other special interest groups and where they all proclaim – “It has to be done this way and this way only!”
That’s the question that Stephen Quest is asking. Why does it have to be done only one way? If we are a fraternity of diversity in makeup why can we not be a fraternity in diversity of practice? If some Masons want to form a Christian only Lodge and others want to form an atheist Lodge, as long as they are adhering to the principles of Freemasonry and actually practicing Freemasonry, why can’t they both go ahead and do what they want? If another group of Masons wants to operate a men’s only Lodge and yet still another group wants to admit women while a third Lodge wants to be women only, why not?
Now no matter what was and what is it is ever changing. And to say that no changes from the Ancient Charges have ever been made or ever can be made is just foolish. One only has to look at “Revolutionary Brotherhood” by scholar Steven Bullock to see how Freemasonry can evolve. The plain fact is that Freemasonry’s violation of civil and gender rights will not forever be permitted by our civil government. Sooner or later the strong arm of the law will intervene and literally meet Governor Faubus at the school house door, to make an analogy, and override Masonic code. You know it, I know it and Stephen Quest knows it.
Initiated 19 August 1981, Passed 30 September 1981, and Raised 28 October 1981 in Gray Lodge Houston TX, Quest became a member of the Houston Scottish Rite Bodies, Ruthven Commandery, Arabia Shrine Temple and Bluebell Chapter OES. Subsequent dual memberships in various lodges around the country notably Glacier Lodge Anchorage, AK and Central Arizona Lodge Sedona, AZ. He was a founding member of Scientia Coronati Research Lodge.
In 2008 Quest withdrew all memberships to affiliate with The Grand Orient of the United States of America.
Quest has withdrawn from the GOUSA after finding the same “Grand Lodge mentality” that has so much characterized Mainstream Masonry.
“Freemasonry doesn’t work anymore,” proclaims Quest. “It’s time for a new paradigm,” he adds. “I don’t buy into this anymore. It’s got to devolve back to local Lodge control.”
And this is precisely the problem in Freemasonry today. It has evolved from a bottom up organization to a top down one that feeds on power and control. At a much earlier time in the history of the Craft, Grand Lodges sat at the will and pleasure of local Lodges wherein the power was concentrated. Today local Lodges sit at the will and pleasure of the Grand Master and owe their very existence to him. One might say we have entered a Masonic era of the cult of personality rather than the assimilation and practice of a philosophy.
This is why Freemasonry is dying, Quest admonishes us. Today’s younger generation are not joining Masonry in large numbers. Many come, he says, to pay their dues and get their ring never to show up again inside a Lodge building. Perhaps it’s because today’s young will not be dictated to. They will not be treated like children. They will not associate with racists or become part of an organization that refuses to open its doors to Black African Americans.
Quest has had two major mentors in his Masonic journey. First in his investigation of Freemasonry prior to joining he fell in love with the works of Manley P. Hall and the words of this author have imprinted onto his spirit a certain guidance system. Later on Dave Daugherty and his organization the “Knights Of Freemasonry Universal,” (KOFU) served as inspiration and a model for the path he has chosen. Daugherty went on to form the “Masonic Peace Institute,” whose mission finds it intertwined into the thoughts of Quest.
When Quest finally came to the decision that the only course of action left was a complete break with traditional Freemasonry, he blended the philosophy of Hall with the vision and mission of the Knights of Freemasonry Universal and the Masonic Peace Institute to form the Foundation Of Universal Freemasonry (FOUF).
FOUF is a Confederation of Independent Masonic Lodges. Quest calls it the ultimate Masonic paradigm.
“Universal Freemasonry has previously been considered an abstract philosophical concept, The Masonic Ideal to possibly be achieved by future generations. The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry, Inc. has created a new dynamic devolving Masonic authority back down to the Lodge level from whence it came. Gone is the former quagmire of jurisdiction, recognition and regularity. Here now is Fellowship, Equality and Freedom.”
Quest now in Machesney Park, Illinois and working in Wisconsin has formed a 501c(10) corporation for the purpose of chartering Independent Masonic Lodges. “I’m not going to wait for my grandchildren to solve this problem,” says Quest. “We need a new dynamic to recharge Freemasonry into a 21st century revitalization, one that respects the individual Mason.”
The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry makes few demands on Lodges it charters. It requires that a minimum of three Master Masons apply for a charter. Once granted the new Lodge must submit its ritual, by-laws and yearly dues of $52. It also must agree that in any matter of disputes as a Lodge that it must submit to a conflict resolution arbitration process provided by FOUF. It must also submit a yearly report. That’s it. Each chartered Lodge can operate under the nonprofit umbrella of the 501c(10) of FOUF.
In forming this Confederation Quest has tried to make it very clear, very plain and very simple that this is not to be a battle or feud with traditional Freemasonry. We are not at war, he would say, we are at peace. Quest would endorse the words of Abraham Lincoln:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, …let us strive on to finish the work we are in, …to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations (Grand Lodges).”
He makes that very plain in his statement of Principles:
The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry hereby unilaterally declares itself and its members to be in a state of amity and solidarity with all Freemasons whithersoever dispersed around the globe, regardless of reciprocation.
The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry, while renouncing all previous systems of jurisdiction, recognition and regularity as being archaic and harmful to the full expression of the Masonic Ideal, hereby unilaterally declares itself and its members to be in a state of harmony and peaceful co-existence with all present and future Masonic organizations, regardless of reciprocation.
Today’s Freemasonry operates much like civilly our states did before the Federal Union. In the early years of our country states would affix a tariff on goods coming in from other states. Of course the formation of the United States did away with operating in this manner. Now Quest wants to break down barriers in Freemasonry that serve no particular purpose other than to insulate those in power from responsibility, accountability and the observance of individual Masonic freedom and Rights. The politics of Freemasonry and its method of governance is not Freemasonry. Rather it is the principles of Freemasonry and its philosophy and daily practice in the world that really is Freemasonry and Quest’s quest is a free expression thereof without hierarchical hindrance that will truly make Freemasonry universal. And the result will be a truly free Freemasonry with a national American identity not Freemasonry owing allegiance to 51 different fiefdoms.
Statement of Principles
The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry, Inc.
A Confederation of Independent Masonic Lodges
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the Masonic family is the foundation of Universal Freemasonry, and
Whereas disregard and contempt for these rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of our Fraternity, and the advent of a world in which all Freemasons shall enjoy freedom of speech, belief and association has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the Masonic Ideal, and
Whereas it is essential, if a Freemason is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that freedom of speech, belief and association should be protected by a common unifying influence, and
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between all members of the Masonic family, and
Whereas the members of The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry have in their founding documents reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of fellowship in larger freedom, and
Whereas the members of The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry have pledged themselves to achieve the promotion of Universal Freemasonry and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now therefore, The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry proclaims this Statement of Principles as a common standard of achievement for all Freemasons, to the end that every individual Freemason and every Masonic Lodge, keeping this statement constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the members of this organization and among Freemasons of all Obediences.
Article 1. The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry hereby unilaterally declares itself and its members to be in a state of amity and solidarity with all Freemasons whithersoever dispersed around the globe, regardless of reciprocation.
Article 2. The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry, while renouncing all previous systems of jurisdiction, recognition and regularity as being archaic and harmful to the full expression of the Masonic Ideal, hereby unilaterally declares itself and its members to be in a state of harmony and peaceful co-existence with all present and future Masonic organizations, regardless of reciprocation.
Article 3. All Freemasons are created equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of love, peace and harmony.
Article 4. All Freemasons are entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Statement of Principles, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Article 5. All Freemasons have the right of freedom of association, freedom of visitation and freedom of membership in any and all organizations as their interests guide them.
Article 6. All Freemasons have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his or her religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his or her religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 7. All Freemasons have the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 8. All Freemasons are entitled in full equality to a fair hearing by an independent mediator, in the determination of his or her rights and obligations and of any charge against them.
Article 9. The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall issue Warrants of Dispensation to form Chapters upon application by any one Master Mason.
Article 10. The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall issue Charters to form Lodges and make Masons upon application by any three Master Masons.
Article 11. As the Lodge is the fundamental organizational unit of Freemasonry, Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall operate according to their own adopted By-Laws free from interference.
Article 12. Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall be religious, secular, masculine, feminine or mixed-gender according to the desires of its members.
Article 13. Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall be free to adopt its own Masonic Ritual and work in any language.
Article 14. Members of Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry agree to submit to a conflict resolution process to be established by an impartial mediation panel. The services of the mediation panel will be available to all Freemasons regardless of their Jurisdiction, Obedience, or Constitution.
Article 15. All Freemasons are encouraged to participate in the social and cultural life of the community and all Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall adopt at least one project per year that benefits the community as a whole outside of Lodge activities.
Article 16. Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall be open to visitation by all Master Masons regardless of their Jurisdiction, Obedience, or Constitution, subject to a pledge of silence regarding the workings of the Lodge.
Article 17. There shall be an Annual Communication of The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry which will rotate geographically. At least one day of the meeting shall be open to the public for recognition and participation of all interested Masonic visitors.
Article 18. The Annual Communication of The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall have an Altar upon which will be placed A Blank Book and The World Scriptures.
Article 19. The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry hereby adopts The Declaration of the Masonic Peace Institute as a part of this document.
Declaration of the Masonic Peace Institute
To: All Inhabitants on Earth
We, the members and supporters of the Masonic Peace Institute,
are committed to the peaceful coexistence of all peoples
no matter where dispersed
To this end we will toil spreading the cement of love and affection throughout humanity
We will work with any like-minded individuals and/or groups, no matter their nationality, culture, color, sex, language, rank, race, residence, or religion
We furthermore, affirm and promote:
The equal dignity and rights of all people
The pursuit of peace, liberty, justice, and compassion for all
The right to the values of enlightenment, through
education and unbiased information
Peaceful conflict resolution
Truth as expressed in all cultures
and recognized by all human beings
Taking responsibility for the consequence of all action,
processes and understanding
The truth as expressed in all religions, philosophy and cultures,
but proselytizing none
The men & women, of all times and from all nations, who have promoted
or do now, promote peaceful civilization
The principles of equality found in the theories of democracy,
without proselytizing any political agenda, action or system
To these ends we will act to:
Establish relations with other national and international peace
Participate in worldwide events representing the humanitarian
vision of democracy and peace
Conduct surveys or research and disseminate information
Become involved in peace processes where possible, proposing,
participating in, and supporting peace talks and conflict resolution
Support like minded individuals and organizations
May Love, Peace and Harmony Prevail
Article 20. The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry, Inc. has been formed as a 501(c)10
Non-Profit Corporation under the laws of the State of Wisconsin and of the United States of America, dedicated to the cause of Universal Freemasonry and service to the community.
Article 21. This Statement of Principles shall be incorporated into all founding documents including Warrants of Dispensation and Lodge Charters and shall forever stand as written.
Dated this 11th day of February 2011 at Madison Wisconsin, United States of America.
I have a good friend and Brother in Canada heavily ensconced in its Grand Lodge system, who after reviewing the mess in Arkansas and West Virginia had this to say:
Looking at a lot of the complaints against this or that Grand Lodge, and the rising tides of frustration, it becomes increasingly persuasive to consider ditching the Grand Lodge System entirely, and having like-minded Masons simply create independent, individually Masonically sovereign lodges, as was the case before the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717.
The ancient, “immemorial right” would be exercised. In fact, there is US precedent: George Washington’s lodge, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was I believe an independent lodge…
Imagine Masonic life and lodges with no Grand anyone, no Grand Lodge rules to follow, and no levies or dues to Grand Lodge. Imagine a Masonic lodge entirely self-governing in ritual, business, regalia, membership and all other Masonic activities….
The concept could also be applied nationally, in which case one would create an Independent United States Lodge, and it would meet, say once every two months, in different locations around the country.
Now, there is a truly revolutionary concept. To coin a phrase, “If this be treason, make the most of it!”
Maybe just maybe if it is time for Mubarak in Egypt to go it is time for 51 power hungry Grand Lodges to go. For under its present constitution today, Freemasonry will not take its philosophy seriously nor will it allow its bonding to become universal. But the Foundation Of Universal Freemasonry will.
We leave you with a charge. Isn’t that how all great Masonic gatherings are ended? This charge by Stephen Quest himself will hopefully inspire you to open new doors in the practice of this ancient and beautiful Craft we call Freemasonry.
The Building Of King Solomon’s Third Temple
by Stephen Quest
The Temple is in rubble, the Crafts are in confusion, and all hope appears to
have been lost. For those Craftspersons who have been traveling the road to
Jerusalem for any length of time at all, it is not that difficult to understand
the reason why. Freemasonry was never intended to be practiced from the
top down or bottom up, and as a result neither of those methods have ever
been successful in bringing the Fraternity to realize its full potential, nor will
they ever be. Freemasonry is not about rules and regulations; it is a matter
of the heart. Freemasonry was intended to be practiced upon the level.
Before the Third Temple of King Solomon can be built the foundation must
be laid, and before the foundation can be laid the ground must be leveled.
All any true Freemason desires is to have the freedom to practice what is
felt in the heart and to have a place to do it. We stand at the threshold of a
dream. Although our principals are timeless, if we do not step boldly into the
future, the full potential of our beloved Freemasonry may be relegated to the
dust bin of historic lore. While the world is quickly moving forward our Crafts
are being left behind. However all hope has not been lost. The system that
appears to be a stumbling block to our progress is actually the stepping
stone into our future. There exists the prerogative to introduce Freemasonry
to its destiny by fiat. Who among you having Freemasonry in your heart, will
also have the courage of your convictions? Who among you will be the FIRST
to put down the setting maul and pick up the trowel?