Saturday, February 20, 2010

Grand Orient Freemasonry and the European Union

The world of Anglo-Saxon derived Freemasonry is generally perplexed by the anti-Masonic allegation that Freemasons are attempting to somehow create a one-world government, or somehow influence governments or politicians from behind the scenes. The notion that an English, US, Canadian, or Australian grand lodge today would try to exert political power, issue official position papers on church vs. state topics, arrange meetings with politicians to lobby for law changes, or other similar activities would be an anathema to most Freemasons in the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions.

Not so with the Grand Orients of France and Belgium. The largest obedience of Masons in France is unrecognized and considered irregular by the overwhelming majority of the Masonic world, and this week's news provides ample explanation why. The European press is reporting that "the Masons" are hoping to open a bureau in Brussels to "to lobby against the rising influence of religious organisations in the EU institutions."

Martin Pascal on lesoir.be reports that the Grand Orients of France and Belgium, and mixed gender Le Droit Humain Freemasons are attempting to exert new influence on government in the European Union. See La reconquista des francs-maçons:

In 2008, Marcel Conradt, Freemason and parliamentary assistant to the Socialist MEP Veronique De Keyser, denounced the assault of “religious lobbies and sects” on Europe. Their objective: influence legislation and decision makers, especially MEPs. Around 80% of the national legislation of member states is developed at the European level. The author described the influence of the churches, but also cults such as Scientology or the Raelian movement, and urged the secularists to maintain a Europe that would leave God out of politics.


Marcel Conradt is the author of Le cheval de Troie. Sectes et lobbies religieux à l'assaut de l'Europe (The Trojan horse. Sects and religious lobbies to conquer Europe). Of course, the biggest villain in the piece is the Catholic Church. I'm guessing the growing influence of Muslim groups in Europe barely get a mention.

The article continues:


Jean-Michel Quillardet, former Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France, outlines the transformation undertaken by Freemasonry throughout Europe.

Today, what concerns unite international Freemasonry and European institutions?

In 2008, for the first time, we’ve managed to get a meeting with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. There was the Grand Orient de France, the Grande Loge féminine de France, the Droit humain and the Grand Orient of Portugal. We told him that apart from its Christian roots, Europe owed much to the philosophy of Greece and Roman, to the humanism of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. We also obtained representation for Masonic obediences and those in defense of secularism in the Bepa (Editor’s note: the office that advises the President and the Commission on politics), which had previously only been for religious and spiritual groups. When we organized an international masonic gathering in Athens in 2008, Barroso had written us a message about the importance he attached to the contribution of masonry to the history and integration of Europe. This is for us is recognition within the intellectual landscape. Nevertheless, there difficulties remain in spreading the secular message, and more importantly, churches are still very much present … A great battle must still be waged [un grand combat doit encore être mené].

With what means?

Within the Grand Orient of France, we created a small organization that is in charge of organizing Masonic obediences throughout Europe.

We are looking toward a federation among obediences. But there are two major challenges: to speak with one voice, and abandon the culture of secrecy. How?

It is in effect difficult to unite because there are many obediences, who possess a strong spiritual current, which lag behind on societal issues and in particularly on secularism - not to mention the Grand Lodge of France. The Grand Lodge of France is a little shy. I’m not sure what the position is of the Grand Lodge of Belgium. But still, when we see what can be achieved together the Grand Orient of France, Belgium, Portugal … or when we observe what has occurred in Greece, the former Eastern bloc, the Maghreb, Lebanon and Israel, it is noteworthy that liberal and non-dogmatic masonry is still a strong current. We need the Masonic obediences to become political in the best sense of the word; that beyond the current partisanship they can discuss secularism and express disagreement with governmental decisions.

Some among you say that a European Masonic federation will not come soon…

The International Masonic assembly was created in Strasbourg in 2007. Subsequent meetings were held in Greece and Turkey. In 2010, it will be in Portugal. The Masonic obediences have been united to this view. I am optimistic.

When can we expect to see in Brussels a bureau representing Masonic ideas and interests?

I think we will one day create a general delegation of masonry and, with this, free thinking in European institutions. It is possible politically, but more difficult financially, because we have far fewer resources than the churches.

What would be your first battle?

Beyond the fight for secularism, there is a battle to wage against communitarianism in society. Europe is influenced by the Anglo-Saxon conception of the relationship between religion and state, as well as multiculturalism. Now we must impose the universalist conception of the Enlightenment, which involves spreading the notion of European citizenship before the Jew, the black, the North African, homosexual, heterosexual, etc. One must come to understand that what unites us is a certain idea of man regardless of descent.



"Now we must impose the universalist conception of the Enlightenment?" That's quite a jump from Anderson's Constitutions:

I. Concerning GOD and RELIGION.

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. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg’d in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ‘tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance
.


Nowhere in regular, recognized Freemasonry is it incumbent on the fraternity to impose anything on anyone, not the least of which a "universalist conception of the Enlightenment." Grand Orient Freemasonry has a long reputation of getting entangled with governments, especially in French colonies when administrations were made up of G.O. Masons. Allegations of Masonic membership requirements in many African governments today are commonplace.

Unfortunately, few outsiders make the distinction between Grand Orient Freemasonry, and the rest of the Masonic world, and we all get tarred by the same brush.

16 comments:

San Diego Freemason said...

Thank you for posting this. I for one am very concerned about the spread of Islam in Europe, though Islam was not specifically mentioned by name in the document. Fundamentalism of this sort is a cancer eating at the soul of Europe and the rest of the world.

Separation of Church and State is basic to our system of government here in the United States. The founding Fathers did not want the new republic bound to a state religion as was the practice at the time in Europe.

It took many more decades for that level of independence to be achieved in western Europe, and much of the credit goes to the Grand Orient of France and it's sister obediences.

The real threat in Europe today is not from the mainline churches, but from militant Islam, and various cults. These are intolerant groups that have no respect for individual liberty or freedom of speech.

The Grand Orients of France, Belgium, Portugal and other adogmatic obediences should be commended for their efforts to preserve a pluralistic and secular way of governing in Europe.

This ultimately benefits all religions by keeping any single religion from becoming too dominant in the public sector.

willermoz said...

Of course as you know, US Grand Lodges do recognize the Grand ORIENT of Italy, which one could reason is a form of "Grand Orient Masonry", despite its not being in union with the GOs in Portugal, France, etc.. One need only to query the English as to why they saw fit to facilitate a new GL in Italy for them to recognize rather than continue relations with the GOI. Additionally, the masonic jurisdictions that Anglo-Saxon derived Grand Lodges recognize in South America, Africa and Eastern Europe, are often very much intertwined with political and economic influence and intrigue. In Eastern Europe for example, very often, it is the organizations composed entirely of the old communist regime and/or secret police, who are the ones with the most financial backing and political influence, and in some cases end up being the one chosen to be recognized. When in a state of limbo, these fellows can be found at international gatherings of Masons, lobbying all the Grand Office holders and passing out their business cards while pleading their case/elevator sale. Which way someone leans politically, can very often determine which Grand Lodge they join in some regions, regardless of whether one of our GLs recognize them or not.

MP said...

Of course, we're also missing the fact that (at least in 1996) the application for the AASR in the Southern Jurisdiction of the USA required applicants to affirm they would oppose the use of public money for the help of religious institutions.

I asked about that and I was told that the SJ SC opposes school voucher programs - so much for not being political.

Moderne said...

You forgot to mention our brothers from the Grand Lodge of France who just as the Feminine Grand Lodge, Le Droit Humain and the Grand Orient of France are sometimes requested by the french parliament to give their opinions about certain subjects for example a few months ago about the burqa* ( "*an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of cloaking the entire body").
So yes it can be about the catholic but also islam or scientology.
Is it a political advice ?
A moral statement ?

I don't want my masonic organization to speak in my name about small politics, but I agree as a freemason that certain moral values are masonic and it's okay for me that my masonic organization speak about it.

Maybe you know that, except the very conservative and "recognized" GLNF, all the masonic lodges in France produce every year works about the future of our society; its a collective work lodge by lodge with a provincial and national compilation.
Masonic lodges work on symbolism but also on social subject.
It seems to me that masonic symbolism often helps to understand a social subject.

Secularism and freemasonry fought together against the roman church for decades to create a secular society where you have the right to believe... or not to believe.

In the US secularism means to have the right to pray what you want ...as long as you pray.

In Europe secularism means to protect the state and the citizen from the priest, imam etc..

We must accept that our masonic culture are different and are relative to each country.
And I will end this comment also by a quote of Anderson's constitution about masonry :
"the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance."

The K.N.O. said...

Politics should be left to the individual Mason, the individual citizen, etc. Even the politics I agree with should be left for me to decide. The GLs should not govern how people feel. That is Big Brother politics, and flies in the face of what Freemasonry stands for.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

The sad thing is that many a young man joined American Freemasonry strictly because they thought American Freemasons were actual men involved in change and action.

there is Universal pride by American masons that they refuse to get involved in politics or religion from the Masonic arena?

I was refreshing to know that some Masonic Bodies still remain true to the purposes of the 1700's.

Thank you my French Brethren

Gillimer said...

"Who controls the Belgian crown?
"Who keeps the English system down?
"We do! We do!"

W. Linden

The K.N.O. said...

The sad thing is that no individual needs to be told how to vote. They may be informed of the issues, yet should have the right to go against the party line. Masons are extremely involved in politics on a personal level and that is how it should be. Not some organization breathing down their necks about how they should react. If the Lodge believes them to be good Masons, they will trust them to make the right decision. Anything more is Big Brother politics in my opinion. (IMO)

The K.N.O. said...

I heard of one Masonic organization that demanded its brethren agree with and fight Global Warming for example. Whether or not an individual agrees with global warming, he should not be forced to agree with it or fight against it. The absolute freedom of an individual to agree or dissent is guaranteed since the establishment of this country. Anything else is despotic.

Chris Hodapp said...

Letter in the Washington Times today:

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2010/feb/25/reject-freemason-led-church-state-separation/

Seems we Freemasons are working with Protestants and wiley Jooz to subvert Christian ideals.

Lorenzo's Blog said...
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Chris Hodapp said...

Lorenzo,
I have profound disagreement with the practices of the GOdF.

They remain unrecognized by the overwhelming majority of Freemasons the world over, not just UGLE.

You can claim "shaky ground" all you like, but Anglo/Saxon/UGLE-derived Freemasonry is the 8,000 pound gorilla in the room of worldwide Freemasonry. They are the obediences recognized by my jurisdiction.

The presence of GO Freemasonry in the US is less than a blip on the radar screen. The funny thing about numbers games is that big numbers are usually the winners in most situations.

France, and Europe for that matter, is a different culture, with a very different Masonic history than the US or UK.Not better, not worse, not wrong, just different.

Lorenzo's Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Hodapp said...

I do not cast "doubt on the recognition or regularity of French Freemasonry." I simply say that my own grand lodge, plus all 100+ of the regular, recognized mainstream and Prince Hall grand lodges in the US and Canada, plus all UGLE-derived GLs, and the overwhelming majority of Freemasons the world over, do not recognize the Grand Orient as regular. The Grand Orient of France has fewer members than the Grand Lodge of Indiana. You can proclaim that it's not a numbers game, but numbers count for something. And the GOdF has a completely different philosophy that the overwhelming majority of Freemasons around the world—namely, they want to be involved in influencing policies of governments. The rest of us think that's no role for the fraternity.

Pablo Santos said...

That old mentality " we don't get ourselves involved in Politics" is what keeps us 30 something out of going back to FM. The secrets, the brotherhood, and the fight for changes in Politic and Business is what attracts new mind, Generation X, not the old mentality-you old folks are killing Freemasonry based on an Anglo system, which btw is boring and outdated. You go to the lodges and no one teaches, no one practices the rituals or teach the rituals and I was a FM in NYC - the Grand Lodge. I am at a point that I no longer care about being part of the largest since i seen it's all BS, I rather join an Orient where true brotherhood exist, rituals are thought, politics and business are discussed and the tight knit makes the brotherhood united.

Chris Hodapp said...

"Pablo",
Then by all means, feel free to go that direction. I think you will find the Grand Orient lodges have their own set of problems.

In my lodges, we teach, we know the ritual, and build strong friendships. All without discussing politics or each others' religious differences. Sorry that's not good enough for you. But I can tell you, the lodges I am associated with are not "destroying" Freemasonry. Not by a long shot.