Georgia on my Mind: Masonry’s Chance to Become Relevent


This week, I was lucky enough to attend the South Dakota Grand Lodge session in Sioux Falls. I say that I was lucky because I got to see a lot of fantastic Brothers that I had not seen in a while and meet Brother Chris Hodapp, the author of Freemasons for Dummies.

Nothing terribly exciting happened during the course of the weekend. The items that we voted on were extremely mundane, but the recurring theme of the weekend seemed to be: How do we make Freemasonry the prominent and relevant organization it once was?

I watched Brothers laugh at the idea that Freemasonry was irrelevant. I watched some agree with my comments during conversations that we are in fact unimportant in society. I also watched Brother Hodapp give an excellent oration urging Freemasons to “think big.” However, this subject was never really tackled throughout the weekend. Perhaps the task of making Masonry relevant and exciting is too daunting or perhaps we are afraid to look at our reflections in the mirror. Little did I realize what was on the immediate horizon for Masonry.

Brother Hodapp made it a point to tell me that he found it humorous when my petition for membership in the South Dakota lodge of research was met with a loud clap of thunder—I found it rather funny myself. But it appears that the clap of thunder that was heard was not just a summer storm in eastern South Dakota. It appears that it was the initial rumblings of a bigger storm brewing in Freemasonry. A storm building up over the state of Georgia.

By now, you have probably read about the events occurring in the Peach State. If not, you can read them here. It was interesting to me that the issue that can make Masonry relevant was conveniently waiting for me in my email inbox when I got home. Freemasonry can become the prestigious organization that it once was by taking a stand on this issue. Every Grand Lodge should immediately remove recognition from Georgia and begin a crusade against all forms of bigotry and racism in Freemasonry. Any Grand Lodge or lodge that would not accept a non-white man or a non-Christian because of the color of the skin or the name of the God they worship must be removed from the fraternity. Prince Hall recognition must be made universal. This is every Mason’s cross to bear.

If we turn a blind eye to this issue, then we can no longer claim that we believe in tolerance or equality, we can no longer claim that we labor for the betterment of man, we can no longer claim that we are a beacon of morality in an immoral world. If we ignore these charges that clearly and specifically state that there are racists in Freemasonry and they are operating the fraternity as a segregated institution in the year 2009, then we are nothing but hypocrites.

There is one right side to this issue. There is no argument about what should happen in this situation. The Grand Lodge of Georgia must throw the charges out immediately. For those of you who say “They have to follow protocol” then they should be filing charges of unMasonic conduct against the Brothers that are calling for a Masonic trial. The doors need to be thrown open. Those that don’t believe men of a different skin color can be made Masons and those that prefer to refer to black men in lodge as n*****s must be thrown out. Its time to clean house, it is time to stand up for what is right. This shouldn’t just happen in Georgia either. It should happen from the east to the west, from the north to the south. Let us make our terms clear and write them in big, clear letters on a white sign: RACISTS AND BIGOTS OUT OF MASONRY.

Forget the loopholes, throw out what any fabricated lists of Landmarks say about interfering in other Grand Lodges, ignore any stupid codes or regulations. Do what is ethical, labor for what is just, fight for what is right.

This is our fight. This is our time. This is our chance to make Masonry relevant.


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  1. Well, it is about time. Now maybe the rest of the GL’s will believe it when they hear about these intolerate Masons.

  2. Well said Brother.. Here in North Carolina we are fortunate enough to have Mutual recognition. All I can say is ….. It’s a Beautiful thing to be able to sit amoung Brothers..

  3. As someone (Bro. Hodapp?) said, would it not be prudent to wait for the result of the Masonic trial before jumping in with denial of recognition? It is possible (I am hopeful) that the Grand Lodge has allowed these charges to be brought to trial specifically for the purpose of rejecting the premise?

    Once the Grand Master has ruled, then appropriate actions can be taken: either congratulating our Georgia Brethren on rejecting racism, or considering withdrawal of recognition.

    Bro. Chris Hansen

  4. The Viper

    There once was a viper that lived in a hole in a man’s front yard, where his children played. The man knew that the viper lived there, but hoped that it would never come out of the hole and hurt his children.

    One day, the viper stuck its head out of the hole and the man had to make a decision: he could cut off its head or hope that it went back in the hole. Cutting off its head was the more difficult road. It would be easier to hope that the viper would go back into its hole and then the man could tell his children that it never even existed.

  5. In July 2003, I penned an unsolicited article for the Masonic Messenger, the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. It was entitled, “What Will Freemasonry Offer My Son?”

    Basically, it was about a half- page article filled with my own personal ruminations about whether the organization (will survive long enough for my now-six-year-old son to join and enjoy.

    Here are some of the questions I asked:

    “Will we ever welcome men of color into our lodge rooms, or will we hold true to ancient prejudices, bigotries and intolerances that have no room in the Masonic conscience whatsoever?;

    “Will we at last choose forward, progressive thinking Grand Lodge officers, or will this line of dedicated and selfless Masonic devotees continue adhering to cobwebbed philosophies of the past that would crack and fracture into dust if shown the light of day?;”

    And, “In a fraternity so obsessed with antiquated rituals of the past and so intolerant of the future, who will ensure that our lodges survive for our sons? Or will anyone even care to do so?”

    I’ve been in journalism for more than 20 years, and I’ve lost count of the numbers of articles I’ve written and where they’ve appeared. But I can say no sense of uncertainty that nothing I’ve ever written or had published generated such an overwhelming response.

    Numerous letters to the editor were published in the Masonic Messenger, with statements such as “[The author] is not considered a Brother by our Brethren and would never be allowed to sit in our Lodge…”

    “If it is left up to people like [the author] then Freemasonry will have NOTHING to offer the next generation.”

    And “The MAJORITY of Masons in Georgia do not live in Atlanta, DC, and one thing is for certain, if the DEMENTED views of this individual were ever put in place in the Grand Lodge of Georgia, many, many Lodges will CLOSE!”

    As a writer, you always want to hit a nerve, and it seems I certainly did so with this piece that appeared in the July 2003 edition of the Messenger. Today, one of the issues I raised back then has come to a head, and the financial future of our organization rests in the balance.

    I’ve met the brother at the center of this issue; indeed, I’ve sat in lodge with him, and am proud to have him join our organization. I also respect our own W. Bro. David Herman, who resigned his position as district deputy to the Grand Master in order to lend his support to Gate City Lodge’s brethren in their effort to revitalize their lodge, and our fraternity as a whole.

    But now the courts – and the media – is involved in this issue, we have allowed our own institutional racism to seriously jeopardize our survival. Every political scientist and researcher, with any reputation for inpartiality whatsoever, will tell you that the current electoral majority which elected this administration into power, isn’t going to fade away. Indeed, this demographic may likely rule the nation’s political scene for countless generations to come. If that’s true, our organization is facing a national government that will remain desperate for funds to enable more and more social programs, entitlements and reparations.

    In 1314, the Knights Templars were destroyed by a national government similarly desperate for money in order to finance its own goals and aspirations. Unless we, as Masons, make this issue right and proper, history is bound to repeat itself.

    Tim Darnell
    Past Master, Chamblee Lodge # 444 F&AM
    32nd degree Scottish Rite
    DeMolay Legion of Honor

  6. Tim,

    I appreciate your zeal for equality in Masonry and your efforts to secure Freemasonry’s future. However, I cannot agree with anything in your last two paragraphs and do not find them pertinent to this issue.

    But back to the original subject–racism in Freemasonry–I must ask those who say “Let’s wait and see what the Grand Lodge does,” why do we have to wait for their ruling to purge Masonry of racism? Is the lack of desire to take a stand on this issue and actively combat such intolerance the result of Masons that are afraid of challenging the Masonic establishment? If so, then we have serious problems in our fraternity that need to be fixed so that men are no longer afraid of raising their voices against the imperfections within the Craft.

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