Whence came the Moral Law in Freemasonry?

moral law, Thomas Hobbes

The Moral Law is a foundational aspect of the Fraternity if Freemasonry.

Anderson uses the phrase in his Constitution of 1723 without any explanation of what exactly he means in his phrasing of it.  And, increasingly, it is being used as a de facto totem of decision making in violation of litigation and jurisdictional disputes. But in the modern civic age were criminal, civil, federal, and state (and lets not even get into international) laws abound we have in many ways lost sight (if ever we had a clear one) of what exactly the ideas were behind the linking of the “Moral Laws” to the fraternity.  The source is ancient without a doubt, and most likely a challenge to come to any consensus over.  Is the Moral Law from a religious perspective, as in given to man by the Great Architect, or a man-made law constructed with religious ideas but applied in a humanistic manner to apply to our interaction with one another.  And then, how does it apply to Masonry?  Is it a religious injunction or an instruction for how to behave?

At the root are the question then is what the Moral Law is and what is its purpose to be invoked in any decision making.

The first step to see it at the time when it was adopted by Freemasonry is to trace the idea though the ages, and it’s clear that the idea of a moral law has been around for some time. Before we get to these first steps, however, perhaps we should explore what exactly the moral law is.

From Wikipedia, Natural Law is defined as:

Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) has been described as a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. As classically used, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. The phrase natural law is opposed to the positive law (meaning “man-made law”, not “good law”; cf. posit) of a given political community, society, or nation-state, and thus can function as a standard by which to criticize that law. In natural law jurisprudence, on the other hand, the content of positive law cannot be known without some reference to the natural law (or something like it). Used in this way, natural law can be invoked to criticize decisions about the statutes, but less so to criticize the law itself. Some use natural law synonymously with natural justice or natural right (Latin: ius naturale), although most contemporary political and legal theorists separate the two.

It likens the essence of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to the ideas of the Natural Law, something any American reading should be intimately familiar with.

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes

To better encapsulate the idea of the Moral or Natural Law, we need to borrow from the ideas of Thomas Hobbes (a late philosopher who codified it into modern times) who says of the Natural Law that it is “a precept or general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life, or takes away the means of preserving the same; and to omit that by which he thinks it may best be preserved.”

Hobbes breaks the Natural Law down to 19 points which he illustrated in his work Leviathan.

  • The First Law of nature is that every man ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all help and advantages of war.
  • The Second Law of nature is that a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth, as for peace, and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.
  • The Third Law is that men perform their covenants made. In this law of nature consisteth the fountain and original of justice… when a covenant is made, then to break it is unjust and the definition of injustice is no other than the not performance of covenant. And whatsoever is not unjust is just.
  • The Fourth Law is that a man which receives benefit from another of mere grace, endeavor that he which giveth it, has no reasonable cause to repent him of his goodwill. Breach of this law is called ingratitude.
  • The Fifth Law is complaisance: that every man strives to accommodate himself to the rest. The observers of this law may be called sociable; the contrary, stubborn, insociable, forward, intractable.
  • The Sixth Law is that upon caution of the future time, a man ought to pardon the offenses past of them that repenting, desire it.
  • The Seventh Law is that in revenge, men look not at the greatness of the evil past, but the greatness of the good to follow.
  • The Eighth Law is that no man by deed, word, countenance, or gesture, declare hatred or contempt of another. The breach of which law is commonly called contumely.
  • The Ninth Law is that every man acknowledges another for his equal by nature. The breach of this precept is pride.
  • The Tenth Law is that at the entrance into the conditions of peace, no man require to reserve to himself any right, which he is not content should be reserved to every one of the rest. The breach of this precept is arrogance, and observers of the precept are called modest.
  • The Eleventh Law is that if a man is trusted to judge between man and man, that he deal equally between them.
  • The Twelfth Law is that such things as cannot be divided, be enjoyed in common if it can be; and if the quantity of the thing permits, without stint; otherwise proportionably to the number of them that have right.
  • The Thirteenth Law is the entire right, or else…the first possession (in the case of alternating use), of a thing that can neither be divided nor enjoyed in common should be determined by lottery.
  • The Fourteenth Law is that those things which cannot be enjoyed in common, nor divided, ought to be adjudged to the first possessor; and in some cases to the firstborn, as acquired by lot.
  • The Fifteenth Law is that all men that mediate peace be allowed safe conduct.
  • The Sixteenth Law is that they that are at controversies submit their Right to the judgment of an Arbitrator.
  • The seventeenth law is that no man is a fit Arbitrator in his own cause.
  • The Eighteenth Law is that no man should serve as a judge in a case if greater profit or honor, or pleasure apparently ariseth [for him] out of the victory of one party, than of the other.
  • The Nineteenth Law is that in a disagreement of fact, the judge should not give more weight to the testimony of one party than another, and absent other evidence should give credit to the testimony of other witnesses.

Interestingly, we can turn to a religious perspective, coming specifically from a Catholic perspective; where the Natural/Moral Law is applied when the exterior actions of the actor reflect their interior motives as their source. It links the theological virtues to the Law citing Thomas Aquinas in saying that lacking the Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude and the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, that a moral choice is impossible. (See Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the second part of the Summa Theologica)

From Wikipedia:

According to Aquinas, to lack any of these virtues is to lack the ability to make a moral choice. For example, consider a man who possesses the virtues of justice, prudence, and fortitude, yet lacks temperance. Due to his lack of self-control and desire for pleasure, despite his good intentions, he will find himself swaying from the moral path.

To fully appreciate this, we must first look to Romans 2:14 when Paul of Tarsis, speaking of the Gentiles says: Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. Interesting to note, this  is something Pike picks up on in his exploration of the 10th degree of Scottish Rite Masonry as he points to the tenants of the “old primitive faiths.”

One has to wonder how this foundational statement from the church became the basis of the Moral Law in Masonry.  It does seem a natural fit – the Cardinal and Theological virtues in conjunction to the other ideas beginning to take shape, but it seems that they were naturally woven in as reasons for being, rather than the basis of the Natural Law.

Anderson in his Constitutions of 1723, says in item I:

A Mason is oblig’d by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine.  is speaking to something else, which I suggest is towards John Locke’s idea of the Moral Law.

Cicero, Roman, Philosopher
Roman Philosopher Cicero

A statement, you’ll note, devoid of linkage to the Cardinal and Theological Virtues.  Anderson’s idea of a Moral Law came from somewhere, but where?


Perhaps it can be traced back to the time of the Roman Philosopher Cicero whose contribution to the idea was to suggest that:

“…natural law obliges us to contribute to the general good of the larger society.  The purpose of positive laws is to provide for “the safety of citizens, the preservation of states, and the tranquility and happiness of human life.” In this view, “wicked and unjust statutes” are “anything but ‘laws,” because “in the very definition of the term ‘law’ there inheres the idea and principle of choosing what is just and true.” Further that “the virtues which we ought to cultivate, always tend to our own happiness, and that the best means of promoting them consists of living with men in that perfect union and charity which are cemented by mutual benefits.”

John Locke

John Locke, moral lay, philosophy
John Locke

But, to see the Moral Law in a contemporary context, we must look to John Locke, for several reasons, and not just his ideas philosophy.

Locke’s point of the Moral Law was to say,

“the nature of the world is governed by laws and so too is man’s conduct, and that without moral laws, men would not have society; without moral law, trust between men would collapse.” 

Locke’s concept of the Moral Law was a re-working of Hobbes ideas, saying instead that people could justifiably overthrow the existing state and create a new one if the ruler went against natural law.

“Though in a constituted commonwealth, standing upon its own basis, and acting according to its own nature, that is, acting for the preservation of the community, there can be but one supreme power, which is the legislative, to which all the rest are and must be subordinate; yet the legislative being only a fiduciary power to act for certain ends, there remains still “in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative,” when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them: for all power given with trust for the attaining an end, being limited by that end: whenever that end is manifestly neglected or opposed, the trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the Power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety and security.”

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy says of Locke’s idea:

“…sense experience proclaims the existence of a supreme lawmaker, a wise creator of the world, which has made man for a purpose. Man, thus has purposes – to contemplate and to procure and preserve his life. Yet the moral law cannot be garnered from consent – from mass or democratic agreement, for the voice of the people is as likely to lead to fallacies and evil. Men’s actual morality may be highly relative, but differences do not undermine the existence of commonalities in the law, hence we should not obey (or follow) others blindly. Nonetheless, the conservative Locke continues to argue that we ought to obey our lawmakers as possessing rightful power over creation, but our obedience should not just be out of fear for the lawmaker’s power, but conscientiously too: we ought to obey it because the magistrate should request morally right action.”

Locke, formerly a firm believer in the Platonic ideal of a good captain steering the ship, came to the idea of leadership having a limit to the extent that he perceived as authority’s reach which we can see when he says “…it cannot be supposed the people should give any one or more of their fellow men authority over them for any other purpose than their own preservation, or extend the limits of their jurisdiction beyond the limits of this life.”

This is important in that It’s been posited that Locke was a Freemason and that perhaps it was his ideas of the Moral Law, especially as they pertained to governance and leadership, pertained to Freemasonry too.

In a paper presented by W.Bro. Ronald Paul Ng titled The Age of Enlightenment and Freemasonry, Br. Ng asks and then answers:

“Was Locke a mason? The answer is probably yes. There is an entry on the “Leland Manuscript” in Albert Mackey’s “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry” in which he quoted a passage by the famous Dr. Oliver in the Freemasons’ Quart. Review, 1840, p 10, where Dr. Oliver said, “… this great philosopher [Locke] was actually residing at Oates, the country-seat of Sir Francis Masham, at the time when the paper [Leland Manuscript] is dated; and shortly afterward he went up to town, where he was initiated into Masonry. These facts are fully proved by Locke’s Letters to Mr. Molyneux, dated March 30 and July2, 1696.”

In his essay, Br. Ng talks on several levels about how Locke’s ideas may have permeated into the Freemasons, including religious toleration and the process of learning by experience.  But, in this context, did Locke’s ides of a Moral Law follow him also into the Lodge, if not in the letter then in spirit?

The Moral Law

It seems that in combination of both the religious and humanist application, one which at the time they were adopted they were likely blurred lines of between, the two were combined into the ideals and principals of Freemasonry.  The Cardinal Virtues and the Theological Virtues tempered into the ideals of a Moral Law to give fairness in action and faith. Both the application of How to be Good Men, and in the principals of getting along in society, come into play now in issues of recognition, jurisprudence, and internal governance and the source of the Moral Law has to be of consideration in some way when acting in a way that invokes a Moral Law as the basis of the decision. Is it as Hobbes set down, remodeled by Locke, or is it in the manner of Paul of Tarsis in speaking of the faith of the Gentiles? Or, is it in a more oblique Catholic manner in applying the Cardinal and Theological virtues, something unmistakable to every Mason in his perception?

Further still, is it something older and less tangible like the ideas of Cicero in that the Natural Laws are laws that cannot in fact be laws, because to be so, they invalidate there very natural state if looked at as such?

What stands out in greatest resonance with Masonry is Cicero’s remark,

“the virtues which we ought to cultivate, always tend to our own happiness, and that the best means of promoting them consists in living with men in that perfect union and charity which are cemented by mutual benefits.”

This seem to best build the foundation of Hobbes and Locke to identify the Moral Law in Freemasonry and giving us a place to then make decisions from – perfect union and charity…cemented by mutual benefits.

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.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Freemasonry

Understanding the Moral Law on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

martin luther king jr, MLK

On this national Holiday, we are to reflect and celebrate one of the greatest Americans in our pantheon of Founding Fathers, Martin Luther King, Jr.  One of his many contributions to our American way of life came at one of his darkest hours which produced one of his brightest writings in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.  In it, king gives us an insight to the truth behind his protests and a reflection in how far afield we, as a nation, have walked from justice which we derive out of our own understanding of the moral law.

Masonry speaks at many levels about the Moral Law, how it is a rule and guide to what ‘being’ a Freemason is all about.

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail which was an answer to his criticism for his peaceful protests in the south in pursuit of equality between white and black Americans.

In his letter, King writes to address criticism made against his presence in the Alabama protests to southern religious leaders who, in their collective opinion, thought the American Negro should wait for their equality, which King says acts as a “tranquilizing thalidomide” which, in the African American ear rings as a justice “never” to be had.

If you’ve never taken the time to read his letter, I highly suggest you not only read it, but take some time to understand his meaning and intent behind it, especially on this day of remembrance.

But, my purpose here is to look at his teaching of the Moral Law and how that squares with the Masonic understanding as taught in the fraternity’s catechism.  In his letter King, talking about the unjust laws of segregation, says that a just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God.  He says “Any law that uplifts human personality is just.  Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

At the time of his writing, segregation was a daily reality for black Americans, which “distorts the soul and damages the personality” giving the “…segregator a false sense of superiority, and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.”

So what does this have to do with the Moral Law of Masonry?  First we need to understand how masonry sees the Moral Law, which is something I explored in 2010 in Whence came the Moral Law in Freemasonry?  In that piece, the question asked was “Is the Moral Law from a religious perspective, as in given to man by the Great Architect, or a man made law constructed with religious ideas but applied in a humanistic manner so as to apply to our interaction with one another?”   My conclusion, after looking at several sources, was that the idea of the Moral Law was best exemplified as being “…the virtues which we ought to cultivate, always tend to our own happiness, and that the best means of promoting them consists in living with men in that perfect union and charity which are cemented by mutual benefits.”

In essence, the Moral Law could be distilled down to living of the Golden Rule which, in the Christian faith, comes from Matthew 7:12 which says:

“In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law of the prophets.”

Interestingly this is a Rule, Law, or Code that is in nearly every faith system.

So, what lesson can we take away from Kings Injunction of the Moral Law and the Masonic application of it?  Essentially, King and his peaceful protest to fight injustice in American society was a challenge to fight a law of segregation that was out of harmony with the moral law, even though many felt that it was.  His example was to examine a just and unjust law saying “An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself…difference made legal” while “a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow that is willing to follow itself,” or “sameness” made legal.

The greatest stumbling block to this sameness is not the extremist of ideal but the “…moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”  In other words, not going with the status quo and working to make things better for all.

Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love?

Martin Luther King Jr.

Further in the letter King asks “…Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love?”  He also writes about the role of religious institutions and their lethargy in the movement to end segregation as “…a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a taillight behind our community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice.” which I believe could be applied to religiously concerned fraternities who hold so dearly to be upholders of the idea of a Moral Law.

Needless to say, King was angry at the position religious leaders of the south had taken and puts the challenge to them to aspire to justice and the upholding of the moral law saying “There was a time when the church was very powerful.  It was during that period when the early church Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed.  In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”  But he goes on to challenge the church saying “The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound…so often the arch-supporter of the status quo” that “…if the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant ‘Social Club’ with no meaning for the twentieth century (emphasis mine).”

Again, on this Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday, I strongly recommend reading his letter so as to gain a better understanding of the past within which it was written and to apply that understanding to the injustice that remains to this day, now nearly 60 years since its writing. When you read it ask yourself if your institutions of association application put you in the headlights or the taillights leading to higher levels of justice.  As you read it, reflect on the ideals of the Moral Law, in society and in Masonry, and what it means to you in your faith, practice, and understanding of justice, as without it no law could be truly just.

Thorns and roses

First the roses, the Grand Lodge of Nebraska is taking their schism by the horns and taking the dialog into the inboxes of their members no matter the “legitimate arguments and sleaze”.

Download and read the Nebraska Mason.

Addressing the continuing issue of who’s Grand Master now, Past Grand Master and Jurisprudence Committee member Dean Skokan writes for the membership in the quarterly Nebraska Mason newsletter.  He reports that “These are dark days for Nebraska Masonry…” a sentiment that he is expressing over the illegitimate installation of E. David Watts who is still under the specter of both criminal and Masonic Charges.

Skokan holds no punches and clearly is writing from the position of the Jurisprudence Committee and the lawful installed (and less issue encumbered) Grand Master John Parsons.  Rightfully so, he calls it as he sees it to the membership declaring the situation a mess but then spells out the undisputed facts and the letter of the law, Masonic law at least.

The issue still comes down to the ability to serve while an issue of moral turpitude hangs over the incumbents head.  The “official” charge is that Watts promised to resign to the Grand Lodge Advancing Line Officers should he be charged with felonies after his preliminary hearing.  A month later he was charged, and then didn’t resign but not before internal Masonic charges were filed against him.  With charges pending against him, Watts went ahead and was installed in a ‘secret’ installation days before the ‘official’ Grand Lodge installation.

Locks were changed, financials redrafted, and staff were instructed to avoid contact and conversation.  Watts became Masona non grata, and face charges with three outcomes: acquittal, suspension, or expulsion, with additional charges pending for the illegal installation.

My favorite line in the 2 page break down is the commentary at the end where Skokan says of Watts “There will likely be some brief period of time when E. David Watts may pretend to be Grand Master, but it will not be long.” And speaking about whose well meaning brothers who support Watts “…Watts’ attempt to be installed in an unannounced “ceremony” is not more legitimate than his claim.  In doing so, he has crossed the lin between legitimate arguments and sleaze.  No Mason should support that decision.”

He concludes his update with the observation saying Watts “walked away from that process [his assertion to the position].  He may have walked away from the Fraternity in doing so.”

I have to say, I applaud the Grand Lodge of Nebraska for their frank openness of this situation and their willingness to address the Schism of Grand Masters in a transparent manner.  Without a doubt Watts has his hands full in the coming months, and the move to attempt to usurp the leadership amidst the turmoil was a gross over assumption of authority.  The sooner this is resolved, the better for the fraternity.

Now the Thorns.

The Charges against Kentucky Mason John Wright still stand without sign of changing.

Not surprising, especially given the comments that are still coming in on the fraternity’s willingness to even allow gays amongst its rank.  It’s hard to say for sure if the comments on the issue are real since they have such a cartoonish tone to them, but when you place them side by side with the issue standing before Past Master Wright makes them impossible to refute them.

In this story, Wright was the focal point of Grand Lodge legislation that failed to make Freemasonry in that state a singularly heterosexual male fraternity.  Following the failure of the legislation change, charges were brought against Wright for a sundry of charges including spousal abandonment, Openly forsaken his belief in God, refusal to obey the Moral Laws by his declaration of his homosexuality (citing the moral law as it being an abomination to the law of God).

So, as progressive as was the defeat of the marriage provision to the Grand Lodge body, the allowance of the Grand Lodge to allow these charges to go through is still a travesty for all involved.  As passions are so elevated about the issue there is for sure to be causalities on both sides of any final decision on the charges.  No one wins in this, and without taking on the dialog about it, it’s really a moot point.

If Wright wins and the charges are found to be bogus, you lose the support of those who may hold similar sentiment as the moralists (of whom there are no doubt many).

If the anti-gay advocates win because of their interpretation of a Moral Law, then Masonry loses and puts another nail in the coffin of social obscurity.

The latest development along the road to the April 8th trial is the letter that the trial is a closed door event that only Masons with dues cards will be allowed to attend.

It’s a difficult road to travel, but I think most would agree that the Grand Lodge of Kentucky could do more to address the issue and take a stand on the issue.  They were strong to announce the failure of the resolution to change their Masonic Law, but unfortunately very silent on this moral witch-hunt.

More of the fight of Kentucky Masonic homophobia

Kentucky Grand Lodge SealBack to the drawing board on the virtues and vices of Moral Turpitude, this time woven again with the Grand Lodge of Kentucky Masonry where it is being tangled in with the moral law.

“…these charges are retribution for speaking out about the discrimination that I experienced…”

Reported in late 2010, Kentucky Masons slapped down the open disdain for gay masons in a vote made in the Grand Lodge session.  The vote would have, if passed, made Kentucky Masonry a pro-family state that recognized only marriages between a woman and a man. The proposal, you might remember read like this:

“Freemasonry is pro-family and recognizes marriage as between one man and one woman. Any other relationship is a violation of the moral law and therefore unmasonic conduct. Homosexual relationships, openly professed and practiced, are a violation of the moral law and therefore unmasonic conduct. No openly homosexual Freemason shall be allowed to retain membership in this grand jurisdiction.”

The change to the Grand Lodge constitution failed, and a more open and diverse Freemasonry prevailed.

Until now…

On the heels of the failed change, charges have been brought against the brother who was then Master of Right Angle Lodge in Winchester, Kentucky.

John Wright, the brother who was for a time at the heart of the storm, has a Masonic trial set for April 8th on Masonic charges that were filed against him in the weeks following the statewide Masonic same-sex marriage referendum.

The change sought in the constitution came in 2010 when Wright and his wife filed for divorce when he realized that he was gay. As Wright started to open up about what happened, he says, in an October 20th 2010 article on Kentucky.com article that “news of my sexual orientation spread … like wildfire,” which has lead to some Kentucky Masons to declare Homosexual relationships, openly professed and practiced,[as a] a violation of the moral law and therefore un-Masonic conduct. Saying further that no openly homosexual Freemason shall be allowed to retain membership in this grand jurisdiction.  The measure failed, and things settled down.

Reported today, March 24th 2011, in Kentucky.com is that membership of openly gay Masons is again being challenged as charges have been brought against Wright on the claim that he “violated the sanctity of his marriage” and “deserted [his wife] due to his homosexuality.” with another charge which alleged that Wright “revealed privileged Masonic Communications” because he talked openly about it.

The one charge said to of had no probable cause was that Wright had violated the Grand Lodge constitution because “he had openly forsaken his belief in God … by refusing to obey the Moral Laws in declaring his homosexuality which the Moral law declares as an abomination to the law of God.”

What’s most interesting is that the charges were brought by fellow Masons of neighboring lodges, not Wrights home lodge of Right Angle.

When inquery was made at the Grand Lodge by the articles author, Grand Secretary Joseph R. Conway declined comment.

Back to the quote from the beginning, Wright says in the article:

“Personally, I feel these charges are retribution for speaking out about the discrimination that I experienced,”

“In my heart, I feel that if I had left my ex-wife for another woman, nothing would’ve been said to me about it, nor would I have been brought up on charges, I know of many Masons in Kentucky who have been divorced and re-married, some several times, and charges were never brought against them for abandoning their spouse by causing a divorce action to be filed,”

Wright’s penalty, if found guilty, could include admonishment, a reprimanded, suspension, or expulsion.

Named in the piece are the 5 Brothers who found his distant actions to be so reprehensible, one of whom is a detective of Jessamine County Sheriff’s Department.

Interestingly, Jessamine County lists the treating of all people with tolerance and dignity as one of their aspects of Law Enforcement professionalism. Apparently, that’s no so the case outside the agency when concerned with a Moral Law.

You can find a complete list of those individuals who brought the charges in the Kentucky.com article should you want to send them a note to reconsider their actions.

Or, better yet, send a note to the Grand Lodge of Kentucky to let them know how you feel about the validity of the charges.  This could be a great learning opportunity shaped by the Fearless Campaign to shape LGBT rights going on right now in Congress.  Maybe this is a small step that Masonic leadership can take to empower themselves with the moral courage to do the right thing.

In the mean time, how do you feel? Do you think the charges are in retribution to Wright’s coming out of the closet and his subsequent divorce, or do you agree that he violated some un-coded and multifaceted Moral Law that weaves itself invisibly through our being like smoke but surrounds our decisions like iron?

Whose has the case for the moral turpitude?

The Seven Blunders of the World


Mahatma Gandhi developed seven blunders of the world.

Gandhi was a man that believed in change through peace and his pacifistic rebellion in India inspired many other peaceful protests such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights crusade. He was a man that lived in a century of unimaginable violence and let the regularity of his own behavior afford the best example for that of others less informed. His seven blunders of the world should certainly give Masons pause and the contemplation of their effects provides an excellent guide for their conduct.

Wealth without Work

A child that receives a toy as a gift will quickly lose interest in it and toss it to the side. But the child that does chores to earn his allowance in order to buy the toy that he wants will cherish it for an extend period of time.

Pleasure Without Conscience

There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying life. While every person has a right to pursue what makes him happy, a lack of conscience will only lead to suffering. Pleasure without conscience leads to alcoholism, adultery, gambling addiction, and other personal injuries.

Knowledge Without Character

A wise man may be able to benefit society, but if he lacks a character worthy of emulation he will never have an audience. If a man has knowledge, but is conceited because of it or uses it immorally for his own gain he is worthless.

Commerce Without Morality

The man that cheats and defrauds his customers may make more money in the beginning, but he will lose everything when the truth is revealed.

Science Without Humanity

Scientific discovery used for the destruction of humanity rather than for its benefit, is a waste of man’s reasoning skills. Nuclear power offers incredible benefits for those who use it properly, but has caused great anxiety because it was first used for violent purposes.

Worship Without Sacrifice

It is good to worship, but if worship is unaccompanied by sacrifice no self-improvement is made. This does not mean that lambs must be slain and burned as an offering, but that divesting ourselves of the superfluities of life—which is a sacrifice—produces the fruit of worship.

Politics Without Principle

A firm understanding of politics will allow a man in office to accomplish anything he pleases. However, if it is used without principle it only serves to corrupt the government and enslave the masses.

Change in the face of the Moral Law.

This week I’ve started and stopped writing 3 different pieces on the “Georgia Affair” because of a range of conflicting thoughts.

It seems that now, as the story has reached a wider National audience in the New York Times, the reporting is indicating that the charges brought against Gate City have been dropped, but that the court filing remains unresolved.

“Morality cannot be legislated but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”
Martin Luther King, Jr

In some respects it suggests that the wisdom of enlightenment has prevailed and that those operating under older concepts of right and wrong are re-evaluating them in reference to a more modern day enlightened understanding, that essentially to bar a man from membership based on race is not tolerable.  And perhaps going further that to demand his expulsion from the craft, or those that admitted him, is also an over extension of the rights we can impose on someone else.

One of the many comments made was that changing men by coercion does not change their heart, that true change of heart comes in time.

There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.
Aldous Huxley

This may be true, but truly for a man to change his heart necessitates his openness to change in the first place.

My hope is that with this specter in the open that those dear brothers in the state who are not of like mind and can see past the tint of color and shape the fraternity there in the manner in which it deserves.

The fight is not over, but I hope that this conflict has passed and that in the truest sense the tenants and virtues of Freemasonry truly prevail.  Otherwise, to leave it unresolved undermines the very virtues said to be the strength and beauty of our fraternity, and if that happens, truly what purpose does Freemasonry still serve?

My Brother’s Keeper – Open Racism in Georgia Freemasonry

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

Genesis 4: 8-12 N.I.V.

Georgia Flag

The Grand Lodge of Georgia has openly documented its policy of racial exclusion of “non-white men”.

In a court filing to the Superior Court of Dekalb county – civil action 09CV7552-8, are documents (attached below) which include the charges brought against the Worshipful Master of Gate City Lodge No. 2.

The charges as filled were quantified as a Violation of the Moral Law.

Specification 1 in this – That said worshipful master xx xx did in fact raise or allow to be raised in and about February 2009 in the lodge that he is the Worshipful Master, a non-white man, xx xx.

Specification 2 – This said worshipful master xx xx did commit overt act or acts against moral laws of Free and Accepted Masons and the moral duties as the Worshipful Master of Gate City lodge no 2 as follows:

  • Violation of moral law from word of mouth
  • Violation of moral obligation to the ancient landmarks, ancient customs, ancient traditions, ancient usages, constitution, laws and edicts working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Georgia.
  • Violation of moral official obligation was taken at the time of installation of officers.
  • Violation of moral obligations of not upholding the charter of Gate City Lodge #2
  • Violation of moral obligation of keeping peace and harmony in the craft by allowing the operation of a Cabal in Gate City Lodge #2
  • Violation of moral obligation as pursuant to Masonic Code 1-104 without having obtained the sanction of the grand Lodge are hereby declared spurious and clandestine and of no Masonic authority whatsoever.

The Master of gate City Lodge, proclaiming his innocence, was then charged in the following manner.

Violation of the Laws of Masonry

Specification 1 In This: That said Worshipful Master xx xx did in fact embrace a formed Cabal to secretly unite to bring about and overturn with usurpation of the constitution, laws, ancient landmarks, customs and traditions of Free and Accepted Masons working under the jurisdiction of ancient landmarks, customs and traditions of Free & Accepted Masons working under the jurisdiction of the grand Lodge of the state of Georgia, when he was elected Worshipful Master in December 2008.

Specification 2 in this – The worshipful master xx xx knowingly and willfully did in fact allow a raising of a non-white man in February 2009, which has never been done working under the jurisdiction of Grand Lodge of the state of Georgia. According to the old customs of the Grand Lodge of the state of Georgia which has existed continuously since February 21, 1734. After the fact, xx xx did allow parading xx xx to other Masonic Lodges, presenting him as a Master Mason accompanied by a letter dated February 25, 2008 on gate city Lodge#2 letterhead with the typed from xx xx xx, Grand Master.

Specification 3 In this: That the said worshipful Master xx xx did commit act or acts of destroying peace and harmony throughout the craft of Masonry in the state of Georgia.

Specification 4 in this: that said worshipful master xx xx of Gate City Lodge #2 did in fact knowingly and willfully commit this act or acts which is in conflict with the ancient landmarks and Masonic code sections 71-101, 4-101#6, 1-101, 1-201, 1-202, 1-205. Worshipful Master xx xx committed act or acts knowingly and willfully that conflicts with the ancient customs and traditions which are the immemorial usages and fundamentals of the craft which have existed from time immemorial and are unchangeable.

Specification 5 in this: That said worshipful Master xx xx of gate city lodge #2 must be tried by a trial of present and or past masters pursuant to Masonic code 83-401 and when found guilty of this charge of violation of the laws of Masonry as he would be under no less penalty than that established by Masonic code 21.106 and 21.107.

Masonic Law speak, the charges are based on committing act or acts of destroying peace and harmony, but involving the moral law as to the cabal behind the making of an “non-white” man a Mason. The disharmony seems to have stemmed from the “parading” of an African American Georgia Freemason, which is apparently now, a violation of their moral law. Never mind that the brother was made and recognized by the state, and never mind that he was acknowledged in a tiled lodge as such

Some speculation suggests that rather than drop the proceedings, the Grand Master will hold the trial to quell the misconception of racism and set the record straight, but this remains to be seen.

In the mean time, a civil filing by the Worshipful Master turned Plaintiff suggests that the Grand Lodge is in violation of its Non-Profit Status as it is now openly admitting that it discriminates based on race, which is against the public policy of the State. In the filing, it is also points out in several sections where the Grand Lodge is …an enemy of bigotry or intolerance… and also states the the Grand Lodge in leveling the charges is in violation of its contract with the member(s) when facing revocation of charters and membership privileges as members have a value property investment (contract) from their dues. Interesting to point out, the filing also says openly that “Upon information and belief, Plaintiffs show that there are currently in Georgia active, regular Master Masons of at least the following extractions in whole or in part: American Indians, East Indian, Arab/Lebanese/Egyptian, Persian/Iranian, Vietnamese, Chinese, non white Mexican/Hispanic, African-American, and Filipino, in addition to those of white/Caucasian ancestry.” So, now there seems to be a provision of the fraternity being not strictly white, which seems to countermand the white only exclusion.

The long and short of this convoluted tale comes squarely to rest on the odious claim that a “non-white man” can not be a Freemason.

I affirm, that racism is not tolerable, and bigotry, open or otherwise, is not included in our Moral Law. The brothers of Georgia are sorely mistaken in this assertion.

As I AM my brother’s keeper my “…brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground“. To let this go will put the fraternity under a curse that will send us “…driven from the ground”.

If not addressed this open proclamation could destroy the fraternity.

This is not Freemasonry in the 21st Century. This is not tolerable, on a personal level or from a Grand Lodge level, especially our Grand Lodges are an electable body from the craft lodge. Recognition of Georgian Freemasonry must be held in questioned especially if they are so ignorant to hold these ideas to be Moral Laws.  If in fact they do then Recognition must be terminated.

We are our brother’s keepers and only have the Great Architect to answer to. How will we respond when he asks us how we addressed this?

More on the Gate City Lodge.