Georgia – Sex, Lives and Fornication

georgia bans gay masonsFor the institution that proclaims no man speaks for Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge of Georgia (some 40,000 members strong) took a stand and made just such a proclamation. Their pronouncement, voted upon at a Grand Lodge session, was to proclaim that neither gay men not fornicators (people who have consensual sex out of wedlock) should be allowed admission to the fraternal institution.

The ironic thing is that it seems to be based on the application of an interpretation of the Moral Law which is a theme grasped closely by many who agree with this decision.

The original edict, in a document signed by the Grand Master of Georgia, states (under GEORGIA) Masonic Code 77-108 that:

Masonic Code Section 77-108 shall be hereby amended to add that: Homosexual activity with anyone is prohibited conduct subjecting the offender to Masonic discipline, so that Masonic Code Section 77-108 shall hereafter read as follows:

2015 Masonic Code Section 77-108, Adultery or Fornication

Adultery or fornication with anyone subjects the offender to discipline, but where the women in question is known by the offender to be the wife, widow, mother, daughter, or sister of a Master Mason, there is the added guilt of the breach of a Masonic obligation, and the want of chastity on her part does not excuse the offender. Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline. SO ORDERED and given under my hand and seal as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Georgia and under the seal of the said Grand Lodge, this 9th Day of September, 2015.


Douglas W. McDonald Grand Master
Joseph W. Watson, Grand Secretary

Their entry in the October edition of the Georgia Masonic Messenger (the original link since removed, but viewable here: Masonic Messenger 10 2015 ), the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia (on page 3) reads:

Masonic Code Section 71-102.1 authorizes the Grand Master to issue an Edict which would apply to a significant question or issue which may be enacted as Masonic Law by the Grand Lodge. Resting upon that authority, Edict 2015-1 was issued on September 8 declaring that a Freemason is obliged to obey the moral law and Almighty God, the Grand Architect of the Universe, the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that basic moral laws are not man-made Edicts or Decrees, but spring from the eternal justice and wisdom of Almighty God; Freemasons must constantly strive to keep their integrity intact, for it is our integrity that holds our way of life together, and when integrity is lost, all is lost; that good moral character is a pre-requisite for admission into Freemasonry and a strict observance of the moral law is essential for advancement and retention of good standing within the Fraternity; and the importance of the moral law as a fundamental principle of Freemasonry is exemplified by the fact that any act by one of its members involving a violation of the moral law is a Masonic offense, subjecting the offender to discipline; and that homosexuality is contrary to the moral law. The Edict concluded, Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline.” Let us not forget that Webster’s Dictionary defines “irreligious libertine”* as a person who shows a lack of religion and is morally or sexually unrestrained.

This seems to be heavily influenced by a religious rhetoric.

The argument to the text above is that it was specifically written for Georgia Freemasons and not the broader landscape of Freemasonry in other states or countries.

So, theoretically, it shouldn’t (and doesn’t) apply to anyone other than those with the misfortune of living in the state of Georgia. Yet, to make such an edict on what they see as moral or immoral activity casts a VERY long shadow on an institution that prides itself in claiming it “good men better” or spreading the light of brotherly love in an otherwise darkened world. Is this really an issue of violating some invisible or philosophically plastic moral law? Or is it a means to apply a quasi-religious edict onto a subject that was just recently accepted as the law of the land? Is that an allowable stance for an organization to make, especially when it espouses a zero tolerance for religious and political dialog? Or, is it just another form of discrimination meant to foster a “them versus us” issue as a futile attempt to stand head and shoulders in the ranks of society.

The issue of fornication is equally puzzling given we exist in a modern age where civil society has most of the morality laws under control. With that said, its apparently not enough. Whatever the reason, it’s wrong; it’s stupid and blight on anyone or anything associated with the fraternity. Who are they to put into word and rule their disdain for the personal lives of its immediate members and the broader member community around the world to exert defacto judgment on what they do and who with?

Georgia Masonry should be called to reconcile this and be put out of the fold. To NOT disown them is to say that this act of moral social engineering is acceptable and that Freemasonry, as a body, has lost its way.

*Consequently, irreligious libertine, isn’t in the on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Brothers Often Talked To, Never Seen

You correspond with Brothers for years. You get to know them really well. Or perhaps you go through a particularly trying time just once with a Brother long distance. That’s enough for a strong bond. But still there is something lacking, the joy of a face to face relationship.

Such was the case for me with the Brothers from Gate City Lodge No 2, Atlanta, Georgia.

That is until I finally made it to Atlanta.

In town for the 2013 Phylaxis Convention,  I got together with Brothers Beaux Pettys,  WM Victor Marshall, PM Mike Bjelajac and Carlos Peon all from the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Georgia.

Perhaps you remember the story of African American Brother Victor Marshall who the Grand Lodge of Georgia tried to expel because of the color of his skin.  And then after that battle was won when they refused to admit him to the Scottish Rite.

In case those stories got by you here are the original articles:

Georgia: Not Such A Peachy Masonic State

My brother’s keeper. Open Racism in Georgia Freemasonry.

Georgia Black Mainstream Mason Is Black Balled Again

 For The Second Time In His Masonic Journey

Mike Bjelajac was Master of the Lodge at the time and it is upon his shoulders that much of the heat was applied. Just a few minutes of conversation with Mike and you could tell why he handled it so well. He is a mild mannered, kind Brother, the non excitable type.

The Gate City Lodge Brothers decided to dine with me at the Phylaxis Society host hotel. This made for a good deal of interaction between Brothers from different Grand Lodges. You would never know that Georgia does not recognize Prince Hall by the way and manner in which brotherly love and affection was demonstrated this night.

Another chapter in life has been experienced and I am back home in Texas, now. But the joy of a time when we could break bread together, laugh and hug each other and get to know something of the inner man will live with me for many years hence. Truly there is no substitute for fraternity and fellowship in person.

Florida Masonic Scandal

The Other Half Of The Florida Masonic Scandal Tells All

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.


Florida Masonic ScandalThose 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.

double headed eagle

Georgia Scottish Rite Reverses Initial Discriminatory Decision

In a stunning reversal by Georgia Scottish Rite, Brothers Victor Marshall and Zeithlin Waters of Gate City Lodge No. 2 have been approved to receive the  Degrees. The SGIG set aside the ballots of two weeks ago and approved Marshall and waters for membership. They are being accorded the ritual of the Scottish Rite at Friday and Saturday’s Reunion 11/4/11 & 11/5/11.

A big thank you to Georgia Masons who spoke out and by the force of their will to stand up for the principles of Freemasonry convinced the Scottish Rite leadership to reverse the unwarranted initial decision to exclude Marshall & Waters. A big thank you to all those Masons outside of Georgia who spoke out and dared to criticize the actions of a jurisdiction outside their own.

By the will of the people justice has been done. Long live the virtues of our beloved fraternity!

Response To Missing The Boat

The Beehive recognizes that not everybody will agree with the opinions expressed here.  In fact as many won’t as will.  Yet in the spirit of fair and balanced journalism Freemason Information is not hesitant to publish counter opinions that take issue with what has been published.  We here remain committed to publish any and all legitimate, reasonable replies to what is stated here.

And so we come to a contrary opinion form a friend and well respected Mason from Georgia, Brother Alton Walston, Past Master Lodge #35.  To Walston’s friends he is known as ole Blake and the following is his response to How Freemasonry Is Missing The Boat.

It is truly amazing that Freemasonry can be viewed so differently by the members.  Could it be that many want to make Freemasonry fit into their own designs and make it become what it was never meant to be.

In this paper and attempt is made to make Freemasonry leader of men. Nothing could be further from it’s original mission.

In the early days of operative masonry, the builder had secrets, not so  much as to keep knowledge from the world at large but to keep it pure.  Today those secrets of the builder art are still passed from mouth to ear, or should I say “By observed example”.  Those who would believe that freemasonry has told all its stories really have not done a lot of observation. Thousands of volumes have been written on the craft both before and after the transformation, but still much of what the builders knew is still a mystery to the lay world.  The fact that it is a mystery tells us that those secrets were kept from mankind intentionally.

The operative mason did not strive to lead the public nor to engage in social  reform. But it did teach man the trade, art, and science of build, including mathematics, geometry, weights and measures, and the most important art of teaching.  It never taught men to lead. but it did teach men to be good at the trade and in business and personal interaction among the people.

As   it was true in the operative world, so to, is it true in the speculative world. Masonry was never supposed to be the leader or pillar of the community but it was supposed to teach men how to handle these positions.  Many stories have been handed down of the good deeds performed by masons and the public had no idea that it was masons that did the deed.  That was the intent of our ancient brethren their wisdom prevails today.  Much of the problems that masonry faces today in Grand lodges and even local lodges stems from the fact that they went all out to let the community know who they were and how much they did for the community.

As masonry operated in the background to help our world provide a better life, it flourished and grew because men saw the work and wondered who and how it was done. Slowly information leaked or was planted and the seeker came wanting to help.

However in open society not only does the populace gather at trough for handouts and the benefits of Masonic charity but they have come to demand it.  Aren’t we taught somewhere that “although Freemasonry is a charitable institution, we would not wish to take upon ourselves one who would become an immediate charge.”

There is no reason that masonry should become a public venture, it has all the qualities that build leadership and good men. It is those men then that take society upon themselves.  Not Freemasonry.  We are not in the need for more members, we are in the need for men who come willing to learn and who are willing to carry on the teachings of freemasonry.

When you play at the public well, all are exposed,  Demands are made that may exceed the ability to help.  While if it were quietly done many in true need could be helped.  Society needs honorable men. Masonry makes such men.  Masonry was never supposed to take on leadership

It provides the men to fill those positions.  When masonry becomes a public entity, it is open for ridicule and resentment.  Quietly, it is the world’s most beneficent organization.

Sorry but I do not agree that masonry is missing the boat.  The problems we have are internal and becoming public, more engaged in society will only make those problems worse.

Society creates big “Is and little “yous” Masonry teaches just the opposite.  Its teaching put all men on the level.  That is as it should be. When freemasonry can return to it assigned task of teaching good men to be better men, it will start to regain its once honored prominence. But so long as we endeavor to be a public entity, we will continue to fail and lose members.

We as masons have done far more behind the scenes to liberate humanity and make a better life for millions then all the public benefits ever done in this country.  I was reminded of that just the other night when going through some very old lodge minutes; our city did not have a hospital and though many had often approached the county commissioners and tried to get one started nothing had worked.  But at a lodge meeting several of the brethren got together and agreed to purchase some land with the express purpose of building a hospital.  That parcel of land was given to the city with the provisions that a hospital be built or the property reverted back to the owner. The deal was handled by attorneys that belonged to lodges in neighboring counties so the only folks that really knew of the gift were the brethren of the lodge. It remains a secret today.  There have been many incidents of this nature across the country.  Behind the scenes we can work wonders but in the public view our hands are tied in many, many ways.

That’s my take on it

ole Blake

Do you have an opinion on this subject that you would like published?  Or perhaps you have a comment for the comments section. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Masonic Central Podcast

Social Capital and the era of Gate City Lodge

Join us in this episode, recorded on April 4, 2009, as Greg and Dean welcomes brothers Beaux Pettys and Mike Bjelajac of Gate City Lodge No 2. from the beautiful city of Atlanta, in the state of Georgia. In the episode, we dig into the antebellum origins of the lodge and its present-day revival in a city known for its diversity of population in one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in America. In the show we talk about what makes a lodge successful?

What makes a lodge successful? Is it the energy behind the lodge, the people that create it? And, does that energy come at a cost? Is there a social capital that is bartered in an invisible exchange that at times reflects a huge value where at others it challenges its very existence.

One such lodge happens to be a nexus for this very question, and has had a year to barter and trade on its own social capital building a reputation amongst its community and amongst its peers. And this development has not been free of cost. Gate City Lodge in Atlanta Georgia has had a dynamic year, from a public forum on Catholicism and Masonry to a feature article about them in the New York Times. All in all, Gate city is not unaccustomed to controversy or at least some growing pains since its founding in 1887.

Since then, Gate City has suffered war, fire, growth and decline, all of which are no strangers to lodges of this age, yet Gate City has re-awoken as a cosmopolitan styled lodge, progressive in its ideas (even if they do not see themselves as such) and yet still as traditional as the day they fought to become the 4th lodges in the already crowded Georgian capital.

More on the Gate City Lodge saga:

on Blog Talk Radio

Georgia speaks. Grand Master Jennings on the Georgia Affair.

I’ll save my thoughts for the end…

The Grand Lodge of Georgia of Free and Accepted Masons
J. Edward Jennings Jr. – Grand Master

August 19,2009

EDICT No. 2009-1


WHEREAS: Freemasonry has existed in Georgia since it founding in 1734 and is the oldest Fraternal organization in the State, and;

WHEREAS: Freemasonry is universal in scope, being a Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, and;

WHEREAS: the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free & Accepted Masons, holds membership in this worldwide Brotherhood, and;

WHEREAS: our Ancient and Honorable Fraternity welcomes to its doors and offers its privileges to men of all races, colors and national origins who believe in a Supreme Being, as stated in our Degrees and Lectures, and;

WHEREAS: no reference is made to exclude any petitioner with regard to race, color or national origin in any of the Rituals or Masonic Code authorized for use in the Constituent Lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted
Masons, and;

WHEREAS: it is incumbent on all members of our Brotherhood to abide by the Rule’S, Regulations, Laws and Edicts of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons;

That no negative reference be made by any officer or member of any lodge chartered under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, in reference to a petitioner’s race, color or national origin, who believe in a Supreme Being, during any Lodge communication, conferral of degrees, proficiency practice o proficiency examination;

Further, be it resolved, that it is the responsibility of the Worshipful Master of each Lodge constituted under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, to insure and enforce strict compliance with this EDICT, an, further, to have it read at the next two communications of the Lodge after receipt by the Lodge.

Any Lodge reported in violation of this Edict will be disciplined.

Given under my hand as Grand master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, this 19th day of August, 2009.

J. Edward Jennings Jr.

Donald I. DeKalb

The Resolution addresses the issue of the “incident” that took place in June about the charges brought against Gate City Lodge (see My Brothers Keeper) for their raising of  an African American to the degree of Master Mason and then allowing him to progress to an officer’s position.

Reading the above, it seems to say nothing of the charges brought, or their spurious nature, any past exclusion based on race, or impropriety of racial segregation.  Essentially, it is a safe way of saying that “we don’t promote any bias on race, religion, or color (never mind sexual orientation)” despite what people say.  Neither does it seem to suggest any acknowledgment of the bias that this edict was written to.

What do you think?  Is this enough?  Does this speak to an enlightened brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God? Is it enough, or should it say more?

The originals below.



Realizing The Opportunity

Gate City Lodge 2

A printed media distributed over a wide area of Georgia called The Sunday Paper has published a long story on the Gate City Lodge 2 situation titled, “Letting In A Black Man, Atlanta Freemason Lodge Fights For Equality.” The paper tells the story of Victor Marshall the soft spoken Black Army Reservist raised by Gate City 2 who has become the center of a controversy being reported across the nation and to the world.

As we all know now the charges have been dropped but Attorney Brother David Llywellen explains the continuance of the Lodge’s counter suit.

“The apparent lack of foundation for the charges filed against Gate City, as well as a fear of losing their charter, led Bjelajac and Gate City to file a lawsuit in DeKalb County to stop the Grand Lodge of Georgia from taking internal action against the lodge and its leader. Llywellen contends that the Grand Lodge had an obligation to dismiss the charges leveled by Hicks and Etheridge as soon as they were filed. Instead, says Llywellen, the Grand Lodge, including a South Georgia attorney named Franklin Aspinwall, who was to chair the Masonic charges and is named in the suit, violated their contractual obligation to Gate City members by putting their charter in jeopardy based on “spurious” charges. Although the internal charges made by Hicks and Etheridge have been withdrawn, the Gate City Masons want some assurance they will not be subject to similar charges in the future before they withdraw their suit.”

And as The Sunday Paper reports there was also some high level Georgia Masonic support for Gate City 2.

“ The controversy surrounding Gate City Lodge has resulted in two resignations at the state level. David Herman, a member of Gate City Lodge, resigned from his post as district deputy to the Grand Master. ‘As a District Deputy, I must be the Grand Master’s representative; nothing more and nothing less. Yet, as a Freemason, I could not sit on the sideline and be a passive witness to these events. I resigned so that I might stand with my [Gate City] Brethren.’ Gate City fell under the jurisdiction of District Deputy John Holt, an 82-year-old retired machinist and salesman, when Victor Marshall became a Master Mason. Grand Master James Jennings asked Holt to tender his resignation after the controversy broke.”

So far this is a rehash of what most of us know.  But this writer would like to contend that it is the heroic efforts of many Masons across North America in putting pressure on the Grand Lodge of Georgia that has been influential in returning a positive outcome to a divisive and despicable action foretelling enormous consequences.

From Greg Stewart’s breaking fully documented story, My Brother’s Keeper. Open Racism in Georgia Freemasonry,” to my own efforts and articles, to the articles and intercessions of Terence Satchell, we at Freemason Information have been a leader in bringing to you the reader the story in all its components and aspects and to adding our voices  working for an amicable solution based on brotherly love and the virtues of Freemasonry.

“As the drama between Gate City and the Grand Lodge plays out, it is likely to have effects beyond a shake-up of Georgia’s Masonic officers. South Dakota’s Mt. Rushmore Lodge No. 220 has petitioned the Grand Lodge of South Dakota to ‘issue a formal, public statement that it will not accept racial or religious intolerance, prejudice, or bigotry in any of its subordinate lodges.’”

Added to this effort of Brother Satchell has been the efforts of Chris Hodapp as reported by The Sunday Paper.

“’It’s humiliating for the rest of the world of Freemasonry,’ he says. ‘I contacted my Grand Master and said, ‘If it turns out that these charges go through and if something happens to Gate City Lodge or its members because of it, I would strongly recommend considering withdrawing recognition of Georgia.’”

“Despite the stickiness of the situation, Hodapp feels there are things the Grand Master could do to resolve deeper problems surrounding the Gate City situation. A statement denouncing racism in Georgia Freemasonry would help erase any confusion over the role of race in Georgia Masonry, says Hodapp. The Grand Lodge, he says, could also move to recognize Georgia’s Prince Hall Freemasons. The predominantly African-American group sprang up as a response to the segregation inherent to nearly all social groups in the United States before the mid-20th century, and is recognized by most Grand Lodges in the U.S. Recognition of Prince Hall Masons by Georgia’s Grand Lodge would make Prince Hall Masons welcome at meetings of Masonic Lodges across Georgia and blur the implied color line that comes from having two separate grand lodges in the state.”

There is an opportunity here that already has been seen by some.  That is a chance to move into high gear the breakup of the KKK influence in Southern Freemasonry and the adoption of racial mixing with the recognition of Prince Hall Masonry throughout the region.  If the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Georgia were to issue a proclamation of racial harmony as a policy of the Grand Lodge and if they were to accompany that with Prince Hall recognition they would break the back of racism in Southern Freemasonry and blow wide open the continued discrimination of Blacks and the non recognition of Prince Hall.

If you look historically at important changes in life, of new courses chartered in unfamiliar waters, in most cases you will not see them just sort of falling together of their own free will and accord but rather being driven by an outspoken leader or group who rallies public opinion to the extent of overwhelming all who disagree.

We have just such an opportunity today if many of us will just come out of our little insular Masonic shell and view the Craft in the U.S.A. as one fraternity not 50 different societies.  There is no reason that Freemasons from every region and every state cannot be united in seeking enforcement of certain basic principles of righteousness taking heed of the methods of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to bring about change and acceptance of basic human and civil rights.  There is no reason today in the Information Age Society in which we live to be restricted from speaking out against human wrongs and working actively for human rights because you belong to another Masonic jurisdiction. Non Masons are going to look at and judge Freemasonry as a whole not selectively differentiating between what the Grand Lodges of Minnesota and Vermont do in contrast to how the Grand Lodges of Georgia and Louisiana operate.

There are other Brothers working in other jurisdictions to bring about peaceful reconciliation. They feed off and are inspired by our support.  If the Grand Lodge of Georgia were to close Gate City Lodge 2 and pull its charter then that would be a setback for development in other jurisdictions, for Grand Masters who seek to keep things as they were 100 years ago would be emboldened. It is the sharing of information and the encouragement we give that can motive those caught in a seemingly hopeless situation to nevertheless continue on. And it is important for all of us in the Fraternity to recognize that we are in the Information Age where ideas are exchanged, information published and discussion made available.  This is no longer your Grandfather’s Chevrolet.

Most important of all is the ability for us to recognize that we are all one.  Californian Masons and Kansas Masons and Michigan Masons and Maryland Masons and South Carolina Masons and Florida Masons and Kentucky Masons and Arkansas Masons and Colorado Masons and Alberta Masons and Ontario Masons and Nova Scotia Masons are all one, all Brothers of the same Three Degrees, all children of God working for the Brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. We are all one.

The story in The Sunday Paper, Letting in a black man – Atlanta Freemason lodge fights for equality, has since been archived and the site disbanded.

What will Freemasonry Offer My Son?

father, son, freemasonry, joining freemasonry, 2b1ask1

Fatherhood can change your perspective in a hurry.

I realize that’s probably the biggest understatement in history, but our six-year-old son has got me thinking about a lot of things.

Mainly, I wonder what Freemasonry will look like as he grows up, and if it will offer anything to him and his truly 21st century generation.

Will our local lodges finally be permitted to undertake the actions that other organizations do to recruit and retain members, or will our leaders continue to restrict and stifle us with their antiquated philosophies of membership?

Will our few young members and officers continue to think outside the suffocating boundaries of tradition and develop new outlets of community involvement? Or, when they see so few brothers of an already sparse roster of members support them, will they succumb to an overwhelming sense of frustration and discouragement?

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 modern day?

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

My son is now in school. When he’s old enough, will he be able to join a DeMolay chapter – as his father did – and be exposed to the Biblical principles of brotherhood, honesty, charity and courtesy, or are those Rockwellian notions merely romantic shadows of a vanished society? Of all the organizations that Freemasonry sponsors, the young men of DeMolay face the changing world more than any, and yet we still frown upon the admission of other cultures.

Will the many organizations of which I’m involved, with their declining rosters and seemingly apathetic constituencies, survive long enough for him to enjoy their benefits? Finally, will he even have a desire to do so, or merely regard them as musty relics of a long-past civic existence in which his father once found satisfaction and fulfillment?

I am different from many members of my generation. Unlike many others, I joined my lodge as soon as I became of age, following in my family’s Masonic footsteps. My father, both my grandfathers, and two uncles were Masons (one uncle was Worshipful Master of Chamblee Lodge, and presided over my Entered Apprentice degree). My mother and grandmother were standard fixtures at lodge events. At 29, I was the youngest Master in my lodge’s then-100-plus-year history.

And yet, the issues facing our fraternity do not center themselves around age or generation gaps. During my year in the East, the brother with whom I shared more common beliefs and observations was 40 years older than me.

I look at Freemasonry’s dwindling attendance and interest, and I wonder. 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?

This work was contributed by Tim Darnell in 2009.
Past Master, Chamblee Lodge #444, Atlanta GA
32nd Scottish Rite, Valley of Atlanta
DeMolay Legion of Honor

Losing the Battle After the First Volley

pha, Prince Hall, black Freemasonry

The first volley of a battle can tell you a lot, especially when your troops are gun shy, frightened by the noise, and abandon the front lines.

When we discuss the events taking place in the Grand Lodge of Georgia, it is easy to say “let the Grand Lodge take care of it and let’s see what happens.” This is easy, because it is the same thing that we’ve done with Prince Hall recognition, West Virginia, the Jesters, and an array of other serious issues affecting the craft. The truth is that the Grand Lodge of Georgia will almost certainly do something that gets this issue out of the limelight. They may sweep it under the rug or find that it is in fact perfectly legal for a non-white man to be made a Mason. They may grant the men that brought the charges against the Worshipful Master of Gate City lodge a pass or they may be brought to trial for their racist beliefs. Regardless, we will have lost our chance to rid Masonry of racism and move into the 21st century (or even the 20th for that matter).

The problem is that once the issue has run its course and the Grand Lodge has taken some sort of action, we will forget about it, ignore that it ever happened, and go back to business as usual. We will wait until the next piece of explosive and surprising news that shows that Freemasonry is not quite the best of all possible worlds that we thought it was and we will repeat the process again.

This issue isn’t about how the Grand Lodge of Georgia handles the matter, it is about eradicating racism, bigotry, prejudice, segregation, and hate from Freemasonry.

This is why Grand Lodges should at least issue a statement calling for Georgia to abide by the Masonic principles of equality and tolerance. This is why Georgia must have a clear understanding that if this is not handled properly, recognition will be removed. This is why every Mason should go to his next lodge meeting and explain this issue and explicitly state that he supports equality and will not tolerate racial prejudice in his lodge or grand lodge. We need to come together, we need to put our foot down, we need to take a hard line stance.

But we won’t.

Unfortunately, the sky won’t fall for Masonry and this will too pass. The reason is that I do not believe that the mainstream media will pay much attention to this story. Why would they? I’m sure that any journalist that found these charges on his desk would say, “Oh surprise, surprise, some organization of old guys in Georgia doesn’t like black people. I didn’t even know that Masonry still existed.” We have turned the other cheek to this behavior for so long that nobody cares about us anymore. We are irrelevant. We are not needed by society. We are too far behind civilization.

Really, we all know this to be true, because we’ve experienced racism in Freemasonry. I have had a South Carolinian brother proudly tell me that “We don’t have no n***** Masons in this state” when I asked him if they recognized Prince Hall lodges. I have watched traveling Brothers bothered by the color of skin of some of the men in my lodge and become truly disturbed by the sight of the Koran on my lodge’s altar. I have had a man who nearly joined a Masonic lodge ask me if “Masons in South Dakota wear their white hoods to lodge like the guys in Alabama?” (he never joined by the way). And no, I’m not criticizing the south. I’m criticizing men that have been allowed into our fraternity that maintain their bigoted views of the world.

Nevertheless, we will ignore this problem. We missed the point. We were so eager to disagree with those “Quasi-Masons” and the more rebellious Brothers out there that we were only concerned with defending our Grand Lodges and ignored the fact that there is irrefutable evidence of racism in the fraternity. Something tells me that Georgia is not the only place that it exists.

I am sticking with this cause. If we won’t take this opportunity to rid Masonry of racism and bigotry then we are nothing but hypocrites. It was a whole lot easier to be in the back of a Civil Rights march in the 60’s than be Martin Luther King and it was a whole lot easier to support segregationist governments than be in the back of a march.

Like what you are reading at the Euphrates? Email the author at to join the  Banks of the Euphrates mailing list.