Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Rumors have been circulating at the United Grand Lodge of England and among the members of the Grand Lodges in America about my status at the new Grand Orient of the United States of America (GO USA). I can confirm that I have been elected as the new Grand Master of the GO USA and that I have accepted. I am also a member of the George Washington Union (men and women) in America.
I want to thank the outgoing Grand Master Aaron Peavy for his remarkable and strong efforts. I very much look forward to working with him, the Executive Council, GO USA, and the members of this new effort in traditional cosmopolitan Freemasonry.
It is also my hope to have the best of working relations with my friends and Sisters from the Women's Grand Lodge of Belgium, the Women's Grand Lodge of France and Le Droit Humain. There are others that can be mentioned.
The GO USA has its patent from the Grand Orient of France. Further news will be forthcoming over the next year.
Fraternally and Sincerely,
Not really a big surprise.
In a 2005 article by Alex Roslin that was critical of Masonry and Southern race relations, this was said about John:
John Slifko hopes to save Masonry by returning it to its radical roots. He is setting up the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Center for the Study of Civil Society and Freemasonry, an international team of like-minded progressive scholars. Slifko believes that ending Masonry’s legacy of racism is just the first step. Next, it should let in women. He says, “The issue of blacks and women in Freemasonry is a barometer.”
So John's out to "save Freemasonry," is he? A whole lot of Masons have already been working an awfully long time to end racism in Freemasonry, but the issues of blacks and women in Freemasonry are two distinct and completely unrelated topics. Not to be unduly churlish, but was he equally outraged in his days at UCLA and do everything he could to encourage the Delta Gammas and Alpha Delta Pi ladies to drop their female-only status? Or wasn't he that progressive?
I do feel compelled to ask what his stance is on the issue of those who break their word in Freemasonry?
Slifko was made a regular Mason in California in the 1970s, demitted and spent time in Co-Masonry, and re-entered regular Masonry in the GL of California while he was pursuing his PhD. If his letter above can be believed, he apparently still held his membership in the George Washington Union GL. Now yesterday, he proclaimed that he had just received his demit from the GL of California, which allowed him to officially announce he had been elected Grand Master of the Grand Orient of the US, along with revealing his ongoing Co-Masonic membership.
Now I don't know John Slifko, have never corresponded with him, and am trying to hold my tongue here. But some questions immediately come to mind. When he took his obligation in his first lodge, was he fibbing? After he returned from his sojourn into Co-Masonry and re-entered a lodge under the GL of California, wasn't he lying and breaking his obligation then by failing to disclose his ongoing membership in Co-Masonry? (And who was on THAT investigative committee?) Did he simply return to regular Freemasonry because it was advantageous to do so while setting up the Roosevelt Center? And when he was elected Grand Master of GOofUSA, he was still a member of a GL of California lodge, so wasn't he breaking his obligation yet again? He only felt confident enough to announce his election once he had his demit safely tucked in his pocket.
A Freemason's obligation is principally about keeping our word. Not about "secrecy." Not about branding "clandestine" Masons. But about our own honor. If, as a Mason, we find that the rules of our obedience are in conflict with our personal beliefs, honor demands that we openly try to change the rules, or resign. If a Mason finds a different obedience that more agrees with his personal moral "barometer," so be it. But it looks like some very deliberate planning and timing has taken place in this case that has been less than honorable. That's unfortunate.
I wish the GOofUSA no ill will (or John, for that matter). Its founders have long claimed to be building a better Freemasonry. But its creation has been pockmarked with more than one less than honorable activity and behavior, and this is just one more piece of that puzzle. They continue to appear to be building their grand lodge on a very rocky foundation. Slifko was once quoted as saying that American Masons “seem to be more interested in the McDonaldization of it and the marketing of it, than in revisiting the intellectual quality of it.” Nothing like tarring almost 2 million men with a broad, sneering brush, tinged with academic snobbery. If he really wanted to reinvest the intellectual quality of Freemasonry, he might have started with honesty.