Harmon Weston over at the (now defunct) Blue Lite forum posted the following:
Modern Freemasonry was born in an environment where the laws of Church and State overlapped significantly (and still do if you scratch them with a soft cloth). A group of free-thinkers got together in a pub and closed the door, not because they were conspiring to take over the world but because they wanted to discuss things the “authorities” would prefer they didn’t and might well have prosecuted, persecuted or burned them at the stake if they were discovered. Ignorant, scared and (philosophically) illiterate people have always been the darlings of governments because they are easy to control, and over the centuries, many of our Brethren have been labelled “troublemakers” simply because they were publicly prepared to ask valid questions the “authorities” were not prepared or able to answer.”
Granted Masons are not supposed to be openly political when gathered as Brothers, but isn’t Liberty one of the defining requirements of Freemasonry?
Is not freedom of the individual a part of Masonic thought that permeates the Craft
Freemasonry was born out of the Enlightenment where church and state despotism was discarded by Masons for the New Age of freedom. Should Freemasons then not uphold the right of every individual in the world be a master of their own destiny? Are free-thinkers required to keep their mouths shut if they are Freemasons? Are Freemasons largely responsible for the rise of democratic government in the world? If so why must they avoid talking about politics (as distinguished from partisan politics)?
Doesn’t the quote help explain the secrecy in Freemasonry?
Fred, its not that Freemasons cannot talk politics, as you well know. We just can’t talk politics or religion in the Lodge. We can talk about it among ourselves if we wish outside of the Lodge (although this seems imprecautious given what I’m about to say). This rule needs to continue to apply, especially when the debate today is so polarizing and our membership certainly is comprised of people on both sides. We are there to meet as human beings, and the benefit of the Lodge is that in the middle of heated discussion in society at large, where it seems now completely within bounds to dehumanize the other side, Freemasonry provides a place where they can still meet as fellow humans.
I agree with the statement from Master Mason, I will further it by just little. The lodge for me is a place to remove myself from the outside world. It does not contain any argument of religion or politics. We just discuss the business of the lodge and how we can better ourselves and our fellow citizens. Keeping decorum in a lodge is the up most importance. The members enjoy the fellowship, and like above if they decide to discuss these topics, they are free to do so when we are closed and return to our humble abodes.
How can we improve our ability to handle disagreement in a respectful, responsible manner if we’re not allowed to disagree in the lodge? Freemasonry gives us the tools to deal with adversity and disagreements, so why not practice using those tools in the lodge? We don’t become better men by avoiding our passions, but rather by circumscribing them and keeping them in due bounds. I’d love to see formal debating in lodges. Not only would be put our civility to the lest (are we the good men we like to brag that we are?), but think of the great information that could be discussed.
You know what, if one thing is not helping the other i would not deal with it no matter what, Lets not dehumanize each other there is enough of that keep moving forward.
Well, actually, until that dark day in Masonic History (1717) Freemasons most certainly did talk religion and politics in the Lodge. The problem for the London Freemasons, which is why they invented their history from broadcloth at the same time that they attempted to make the Craft politically and religiously inoffensive, was that up to then, Freemasonry, a decidedly Scottish phenomenon was associated both with Catholicism and the Stuart Royal Family.
We see these changes take place in Hanoverian England. What would you expect? Scottish masonry got exported to the Continent and continued to engage in political discourse. In order to avoid the repression of the new order, the London masons created a new Grand Lodge and distanced themselves from the Jacobites. It pays to know a little history, as when you do it is easy to identify fiction when you read it.
Eoghan (who still IS a Jacobite)
The prohibition is not to speak in the Lodge about PARTISAN politics and SECTARIAN religion. This means specifics about specific positions, bills in Congress, party proselytizing and religious dogma and catechism is definitely forbidden. But a more general discussion of broad general ideas and placing the Craft squarely behind them surely is not out of line. Are you going to tell me it would be wrong for Freemasons to discuss peace, education, prayer? Is it forbidden for Freemasons to promote Liberty without specifically aligning themselves with any particular person or proposal. Surely we can discuss IDEAS that are not PARTISAN OR SECTARIAN. Most who are critical have denounced the discussion of politics in Lodge. You need to reread the post. Nowhere did I ever recommend the discussion of politics or religious dogma or the promotion of either by Freemasons in or out of the Lodge room. Nor did the entire message. However, I would be in favor of allowing IDEAS to be considered. It seems that many are so super sensitive on this issue (and uninformed) that they would muzzle Freemasons needlessly and thus close avenues where Masons could be of tremendous help to society.
Good point Beehive. Since small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, and great minds discuss ideas, then we should strive to become great minds by discussing ideas. Then not only are we learning how to handle a disagreement before it becomes an argument, but we’re tackling some big, meaty issues that could really improve the lodge.
And I also would like to address the view that Freemasonry should be an oasis apart from society. I do not think Freemasonry ever was meant to be a monastic experience. Do you really think Paul Revere and the original Tea Party was a fluke, a one time foray of Freemasonry into the issues of the day? Would you do away with the CHIP program that many GLs run because that is interfering in society’s problems? Would you shut down Masonic scholarships for the same reason? Would you prohibit Freemasons from marching in any parades or participating in any national holiday celebrations? Would you prevent Freemasons from helping to conserve our natural resources by promoting conservation and prohibiting toxic dumping? Are Freemasons to be like Monks cloistered in a private domain and sheltered from the goings on of the outside world? Is this what your vision of Freemasonry is?