U.S. Freemasons often seem perplexed over the public and press reactions against Masons in Europe, and especially by the Roman Catholic Church's anti-Masonic stance. What we don't see here are the very public actions of Masonic groups like the Grand Orient de France. Take this article from the Liberation.fr website:
Sarkozy Holds to the Separation of Church and State
by Catherine Coroller
Wednesday January 9, 2008
Nicolas Sarkozy will shortly travel to the Grand Orient of France (GOF), where he will meet with various French Masonic obediences. He made this agreement yesterday with a delegation of Freemasons led by Jean-Michel Quillardet, Grand Master of the GOF. The brothers sought an appointment after Sarkozy's visit to the Vatican on December 20. He had supported a "positive secularity" and had expressed doubts about "moral secularity," saying that it is "always in danger of exhausting itself or changing into fanaticism when it is not associated with a longing which is filled with an aspiration for the infinite."
According to Jean-Michel Quillardet, Sarkozy said yesterday that he would give as much respect to secular morals as to religious morals, and assured that the 1905 law on the separation of church and state would not be touched except for a few "technical adjustments." "He wanted to reassure us about his intentions, but we will be watching him very, very carefully," Quillardet warned at the end of the interview. The visit of the Head of State to the GOF has been agreed to in principle, it only awaits a "formal invitation" to set a date.
It would be inconceivable in the US for a delegation from a Grand Lodge to demand a meeting with the president in reaction to an official visit with the pope in order to make sure national policy wasn't getting too religious – and especially to make sure the government wasn't getting too chummy with Rome. Now, I'm not a complete dull wit about France's historical grappling with the power the Church had over a vast amount of the citizens' daily lives, at several times throughout their history. Don't get me wrong — the WASP-y U.S. has been through several phases of getting in a lather over the supposed influence of "monkery" and "popery." (At one point, the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana was convinced that the Church was buying land in rural Ohio and Indiana along the National Road to build a new Vatican, so they sent out vigilante groups to guard the roads from anyone who looked suspiciously like a carload of Cardinals on a real estate scouting tour.)
But is it the place of Freemasonry to be a public watchdog that seeks to influence the government? Is that really what we want our Grand Lodge officers to be doing?
This is just one of several reasons why mainstream Freemasonry will not recognize the Grand Orient de France as a regular Masonic obedience. With their strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy on religion, they have decided it is their duty to make certain France itself adheres to that same policy. Some would say they are simply taking Masonic philosophies and putting them into action. But isn't Freemasonry's role to teach its lessons to its members and then let them go forth to act on their own? Is it really the job of a grand lodge to try to extend its influence politically outside of its lodge rooms?