Monday, February 29, 2016

UPDATED: GM of California on Gays in Freemasonry

Most Worshipful Brother M. David Perry, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge F&AM of California, has issued a statement about the recent actions in Georgia and Tennessee  regarding gay men and Freemasonry. It reads:


You might have read about recent events in some US states including Georgia and Tennessee where Masonic grand lodges have adopted new rules or have enforced existing rules that discipline Masons because of their sexual orientation. Such rules and actions do not coincide with the principles of Freemasonry as practiced by the Grand Lodge of California and do not support what we understand as the great aim of our fraternity. 

Freemasonry is a universal system which uses the tools and techniques of the old stonemasons’ guilds to illustrate simple moral and ethical principles. To this it adds a philosophical and spiritual framework for personal improvement. Freemasonry encourages its members to be better by improving their relationships with others, by practicing a life of tolerance, compassion, honesty, and the pursuit of justice. Freemasonry instructs its members to uphold and respect the laws of their government and not to undermine those laws. It attempts to make the world a better place by making its members better citizens of the communities in which they live. 

Freemasonry may be found worldwide, in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Freemasonry works through local lodges. In California and elsewhere, some lodges are comprised of men only, some of women only and some of both men and women. Each lodge typically operates under a grand lodge, and there are a number of these grand lodges operating in California. Each grand lodge is independent and operates under its own set of rules as its members may decide.  

With more than 50,000 members statewide, those lodges under the Grand Lodge of California are open to men of good character and faith, regardless of their race, color, religious beliefs, political views, economic station, sexual orientation, physical ability, citizenship or national origin. Our lodges currently work in English, Spanish, French, and Armenian. 

Through this universal brotherhood, California Masons learn to be better husbands, better fathers, better friends, and better citizens. By appreciating our differences, we learn to focus on what unites us. Thus, the discussion of religion, politics, and business is not permitted in our lodges. In this way we live up to the centuries-old aim of our fraternity – to unite men of every country, sect, and opinion and cause true friendship among those who otherwise would have remained at a distance. 
Sincerely and fraternally, M. David Perry, Grand Master 


The letter can be seen online here.

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UPDATE: On February 26th, 2016, MW R. Wesley Ing, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Utah F&AM, issued the following statement to all Masons in the state:


There are those today that believe as society changes so should Freemasonry. However, over the ages the basic tenets and principles of Masonry have proven to be unwavering and beyond reproach.  
That being said The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Utah welcomes to its doors and admits to its privileges, worthy men of various creeds and classes. However, it insists that all men shall stand upon an exact equality. As this Grand Lodge does not concern itself with a Mason’s religious faith, ethnic background and or race, so neither does this Grand Lodge concern itself with a Mason’s sexual preference. All that is asked is that a Utah Freemason look well to his obligations and promote the good of the Fraternity within the confines of his lodge and the community around him.  
Sincerely & Fraternally,  
R. Wesley Ing  
Grand Master, F&AM of Utah 

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And this statement now appears on the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia website:

​In response to recent questions posed to this Grand Lodge on the qualifications and eligibility of men seeking membership in our constituent Lodges, we offer this statement of unwavering principles: Admission to membership in our lodges is extended to men of faith based upon their personal merit and good character, without reference to race, creed, sexual orientation, specific religion or national origin. 

The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia dedicates itself to the diversity of the brotherhood of men who practice and study the initiatory rites and deep symbolism of Freemasonry in an effort to make ourselves better men – socially, morally and intellectually.  Our Grand Lodge is a society of men who use single-gendered camaraderie and fellowship to provide motivation and drive for self-improvement, especially in the practice of our key aspirations: brotherly love, relief and truth.
 

The universality of our practice is reflected in the broad range of backgrounds to be found here. Lodges here not only work in English, but in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Farsi, Turkish and Armenian. Our membership hails from every continent and represents every race and creed, as well as a broad range of national origins.  Masonic visitors to this international city find unparalleled opportunities to visit a Lodge that reminds them of home – wherever that home may be.
 

However, the concept of universality is not only an international paradigm. It enjoys equal importance in our welcoming of men whose varied backgrounds and practices in their private and professional lives would normally keep them at a perpetual distance. The diversity of our membership, in terms of race, creed, sexual orientation, specific religion and national origin is thus seen as an asset, rather than a liability. Civility and kindness is the rule for all interaction, thus discussions of politics, religion and business are prohibited in the Lodge room. In this way, we hold that men become brothers by leaving divisions at the door, and taking strength from a shared appreciation of the common aspirations of all men for their own betterment, and for improving themselves through service as respected members of their communities, despite their outward differences.
Our dedication to diversity was not born in Washington, DC. Worldwide Masonic law and practice from the days of Anderson’s Constitutions clearly disfavors the exclusion of men based upon modes of belief, backgrounds or lifestyles that enjoy legal protection in their societies. Therefore, today we say, “Any man can be a D.C. Freemason, but not every man can be one.”  And our tradition of over five hundred years of inclusion continues to patiently await those with the imagination, will and energy to dedicate themselves to the elevation of the human race. 

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On March 1st, the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction declared their position on the subject of homosexual members by posting on their website
"Membership in the Scottish Rite is based upon personal integrity and good character, without reference to race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or national origin." 
They represent several hundred thousand of the 550,000 U.S. Scottish Rite Freemasons, from 35 jurisdictions.

25 comments:

  1. Brother Perry's statement is welcome. So was the statement by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.

    These views need implementation.

    To say something is wrong and not do something about it, calls more attention to the problem of a large part of American freemasonry, that it maintains racial segregation and now had allied with what is simply gay bashing.

    Grand lodges have to examine the recognition of African dictators as grand masters, the exclusion of Jews from craft lodges in some countries and from the Scottish Rite in some countries, and the segregation practiced by recognized auxillaries.

    Otherwise the attention now focusing on these bigoted practices will mean the craft will not be able to participate in civic and community activities - parades, memorial ceremonies, scholarly meetings: once this happens it will be difficult to regain the relationships. Tax advantages withdrawn will not be regained. Privileges such as awarding scholarships or cooperating with other charities will be gone forever.

    Perhaps this too dire a reading of the situation. It is not. On the contrary,it is a more serious situation than what followed on the Morgan affair, and comes at a time when the fraternity already has major challenges. More we do not need.

    Many masons want to see moral leadership now, which can be shown by the withdrawal of recognition.

    Brother Perry has put the case well, and now action is required nationally and decisively so our fraternity is seen without doubt as what it was intended to be, the meeting place for diverse spirits just as our country is a country of diversity and good will towards all, regardless of color or gender. We want to be proud to be masons.

    Bro.Paul Rich

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  2. "I will not be at the making of a Mason of a Libertine, of a fool or a madman ".

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  3. Brother Hightower, are you defining a gay man as necessarily being a libertine? A fool? A madman?

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  4. To Ken Hightower:

    Actually, the term used in most jurisdictions' obligations is "an irreligious libertine," as was originally phrased in Anderson's publishing of the Ancient Charges. As there are many gay members of the clergy in a wide range of religious sects and denominations around the world, I would simply submit that they would not represent "irreligious libertines". Perhaps your jurisdiction differs in its phrasing. In any case, if a man declares a belief in a Supreme Being on a Masonic petition and in the course of his degrees, it is not within your personal purview to decide whether his religion is valid or not.

    And I also can only wonder from your brief comment as to whether you regard homosexuals (or perhaps even Grand Masters, since that is partially the subject of this post and you don't actually explain yourself) as being madmen or fools. Given the number of notable figures from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions over the years who have publicly identified themselves as being homosexuals, I would find such a contention to be incorrect - if that is indeed your intention.

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  5. Utah Masons can be proud of the well put statement of Grand Master Ing, just as California Masons are uniformly expressing appreciation for Grand Master Perry's excellent statement and District of Columbia Masons have been proud of the statement of their grand lodge.

    Let us not forget the discrimination against our African American brethren, which has gone on such long. It has to stop now.

    Grand Master Perry's statement was historic because it recognized the various grand lodges in California, including those for women and those including both men and women: not recognition in the technical sense but in the way the United
    Grand Lodge of England has acknowledged women's masonry.

    So this is a notable day in Masonic history.

    Now the words have to be translated into actions. Having taken this stand, real action is called for.

    Surely the future for the fraternity is in being seen as a strong supporter of an America which demonstrates the truthfulness of the pledge we take to the flag at our meetings: "for all". For 'all' means what it says.

    There is no place in the craft for David Dukes and gay bashers. Continued recognition of those kind of people is untenable. it will destroy us.

    Bro.Paul Rich


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  6. Slightly off topic, but does California Grand Lodge permit co-masonry, or is he referring to other Grand Lodges that do permit it?

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  7. No, the Grand Master was referring to other irregular, unrecognized grand lodges at work in California.

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  8. MWGM Wes is a good man and speaks the truth of Utah Freemasonry. We just don't care about sexual identity. Why should it matter? I just shake my head when I hear stories about other Grand Lodges pulling this kind of stuff.

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  9. He does speak the truth. Why do other grand lodges remain silent? Where is the sense of leadership and responsibility of their grand masters?

    Recognition of racially discriminatory and gay bashing grand lodges makes all of us party to the shame, and our fraternity unwillingly into the largest movement in the country supporting organized systematic bigotry.

    We cannot take pride in the American flags in our lodges while our grand lodges endorse bigotry by recognition. What does recognition of segregated and anti gay grand lodges mean other than going along with their aproned hate. How can the members of those segregated and anti gay lodges claim to be masons?

    Bro. Paul Rich

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  10. Grand Master Perry's statement was historic because it recognized the various grand lodges in California, including those for women and those including both men and women:

    Bro. Paul, I think it would be more correct to say that MW Perry acknowledged those other lodges. The term "recognize" has some very specific Masonic implications. I'm sure you're aware of that; I just think it's a good idea be careful about our wording, so it doesn't throw people off.

    Other than that, spot on.

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  11. Unknown 2/29/16 11:34pm is me. I don't know why the Google sign in didn't carry over.

    Thank you for clarifying that.

    I'm 35, have been a brother for 6+ yrs. I just finished my first time as a master & am working on becoming a lodge instructor.

    I have several gay friends that are good men, who would make good Masons. Two of them have reached out to me since these incidents have came to light. I've assured them that my Grand Lodge and my Blue lodge would be supportive of them. I firmly believe in the Universality of Freemasonry and the actions of TN and GA trouble me.

    Personal religious beliefs are just that, personal. As an example, my denomination professes the Holy Catholic Church & believes in the Bible, yet I was listening to a Gay Pastor give the sermon Sunday morning.

    The point being, two people can see the same great light in different ways. In the spirit of friendship and brotherly love, we should leave it at that and not allow more narrow religious definitions frame our fraternity.

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  12. I am more than a little surprised that all of the Masonic leaders among the commenters on the subject of sexual preference not being a problem. All this discussion is like a gay pride parade... all show and no go! I would hope Freemasonry conventions don't turn into "dog and pony" shows to promote gays. I don't think the exhibitionists in a gay pride parade are indicative of most in that lifestyle... I think the majority go about their lives without waving placards and constantly challenging everything (and I mean everything) that is different and Masonry is definitely a great target.

    Why do you think the early open practitioners of homosexuality chose the word "Gay"? Why do you think that the quite acceptable, by the legal system, legal union had to be called "Marriage"... refer to "gay pride" in the last paragraph.

    I saw the photos of the "wedding" taking place in a Lodge room and although I have seen a heterosexual (God forbid I use the word "normal" or the like) in a Lodge room, it was a very beautiful wedding with people duly attired for such an event. I will guarantee you that most homosexual pairings have a good solid legal document drawn up by a lawyer as far as their "common rights". Lawyers make millions of dollars on failed relationships and if anyone thinks or believes that homosexual marriages don't break down is on very inexpensive drugs.

    And when they do... believe me... it is everything but amicable! The nastiness is appalling! So now you have a same sex "marriage" of two Brothers in a Masonic Lodge that goes sour... what happens to the magical harmony now? Are the two of them excused from Lodge UNTIL they settle their "pique"... do members of the Lodge take sides? What happens? You don't know do you... you just don't know.

    I have stated on many of these forums that I don't have to state on a Petition that I am heterosexual and a homosexual doesn't have to state on his Petition that he is a homosexual BUT we both then take the same oath in the Third Degree that we will "respect the chastity of a Brother's wife, mother, sister and child"... what about a Brother himself, his father, his brother, etc.? The only one covered for the homosexual is the Brother's child because no gender is inferred (usually).

    I am sure some of you have been through such an incident in Lodge and watched guys drummed right out of Masonry world wide after a Masonic trial. So what I am saying is that if the homosexual (and everyone) makes an oath that he will respect the chastity of a Brother AND all of his family that has the same manner of enforcement... no problem!

    I have always laboured under the belief that we are all equals as Free and Accepted Masons. I know there are homosexual members and some are very good and participating members and I mean that as around 80% of Masons don't even attend Lodge in most areas. For the homosexuals that would rather be in a gay pride parade... you are not a good candidate for Freemasonry... you are getting in people's faces.

    I do hope though that transgenders and such don't jump on the bandwagon.

    With a group so concerned over membership numbers as Masonry globally is, let it be no surprise that thousands of Masons will never agree with the handful of liberals that promote this as a big deal and Demit... fine you say now but no more whining over membership... that in itself is non-Msonic anyway.

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  13. Bro. Dryden, I think you are engaging in some stereotyping of gay brothers that is unwarranted. Within the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia we have many gay members, officers and brethren. There is not any unwarranted drama or turmoil for this. These are professional men who arrive at lodge wearing a suit and tie and respect their obligation.

    I have always found that it is the most intolerant of Grand Lodges that find their membership continually shrinking, and the lodges in small towns in the South dwindling down to a handful of old-timers. Whereas in the District of Columbia we've seen a renaissance of new members. My own lodge was on the verge of closing its doors twenty years ago. Today we are more vibrant than others with brothers of all races, creeds, nationalities and yes, sexual orientations.

    We do not discriminate in Masonry and I hope that you are able to accept change for the good of the Fraternity.

    Sincerely & Fraternally,
    Robert M. Youngman
    PM

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  14. So glad to see that some American Grand lodges speak forcefully about the un-Masonic nature of discrimination of any kind and to see them at least acknowledge the existence of Women's and mixed Freemaasonry. I would commend some of my blog-posts to your attention: www.masonicmeditations.com
    Jonti Marks
    UK

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  15. Brother Dryden, That we do not know what would happen, is a flawed argument. If you want to know, go ask a lodge of co-masonry. Surely they have encountered such issues. I wonder if two wives in OES were friends, as we're their husbands, when one couple decides to divorce. Do you think there were never discussions? If two brothers who are not a couple were to have a disagreement, how would it normally be settled? If two brothers who are a couple have a disagreement why would it get settled any other way? If it were over money in either case? If it were over infidelity, on one side, on both? What if an unmarried brother frequents brothels? Have not oaths been broken? Then proceed as usual. Did you not promise to gently give good counsel to an erring brother? If a brother who has been completely open and honest with you, is behaving badly, would you fail to extend charity and try to guide him back?

    My point is this, if a couple were members of the same lodge and something went sideways, AND they brought the problem to lodge, your first duty would be to remind them of their obligations, and then recommend counseling. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less. Uncertainty and discomfort come from within. There is no need to make a bigger deal out of it than it is.

    As you have noted the parades are just that, parades. They are hardly representative. Just as the antics of a Mardi Gras parade are not. So let's agree that most of those folks aren't going to make it past the investigation committee.

    To close, I will qualify my assertions by intimating that I and my partner of 25 years are members of the same lodge, and we have none of the problems you have suggested.

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  16. The Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, has just now published a statement making clear that gays are welcome as members:
    https://scottishrite.org/about/scottish-rite-membership-qualifications/

    A problem surfacing is that Masonic institutions such as hospitals and clinics that deal with the public and receive public funding and certification are at risk for their governing boards having representatives of segregationist and gay bashing groups or of groups which recognize such lodges.

    Undoubtedly such trustees would be challenged legally if there was a dispute involving discrimination.
    The anti gay and racial issues are alike and will be treated as alike, while the problems like Jews not being able to join in some jurisdictions,women's membership, and the African dictators who are grand masters be seen as separate issues.

    Bro. Paul Rich

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  17. I would say that all masons are asked at their first stage in whom do you put your trust and the answer is God! That being said God does not condone homosexuality and neither do i. And neither should Freemasonry. Just my opinion as a Christian and a Past Master. My Christian beliefs will not ever let me condone homosexuality

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  18. John,
    As has been stated here several times, there are many, many openly gay members of the clergy in a wide variety of faiths and denominations around the world, so there are millions of Christians who disagree with your personal views. Saying "God does not condone homosexuality" is hardly a universal tenet of Christianity, regardless of what you believe.

    As a Past Master, I certainly hope you made it through your year and came to understand the role that private religious beliefs play in open lodge. No one is asking you to give up your Christian beliefs. But using those specific beliefs to write into Masonic law issues that don't belong there is just simply wrong, according to the most basic, fundamental rules of the fraternity set down in the 1700s. I know you understand that Masonic law prohibits proselytizing in lodge, even if your faith calls you to do so. It's grounds for a Masonic trial and suspension, even if the majority of men in that lodge agree with your personal faith or not. It violates our stated rules of inclusion.

    A Mason is asked solely if he believes in a Supreme being, in most regular, recognized jurisdictions. He is forbidden to speak about his religious faith, and his political views in lodge, and by extension, Grand Lodge. You can believe all you like that "God does not condone homosexuality". No one is asking you to change your views. And if an openly gay Mason tries to visit your lodge, I presume your jurisdiction allows you to object to allowing him to enter - again, it's a fundamental right of any Mason, set down in our original rules. But if another lodge disagrees with your point of view, they are entitled to run their lodge and admit the men they find to be of good character after an investigation. Those men are your Masonic brethren, too.

    Recall back in 2009-10 in Atlanta, a lodge in that city admitted a black member, who was reputed to be the first black member of a lodge under the Grand Lodge of Georgia. As a result of their action, the WMs of two different lodges in the state filed Masonic charges against that Atlanta lodge, because according to their charges, it had violated the "Moral Law" by initiating, passing and raising a black man. Their interpretation of the Moral Law, which is not written down in the GLofG Code, was partially based on their Christian beliefs. Surely you don't agree with that point of view. The gay issue is similar in nature. Just because you believe homosexuality is a sin does not rise to the level of barring Masonic membership in other lodges, because it is a religious (and political) opinion. Neither should it be written into the state Code.

    The Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction has just openly declared their position on the subject by posting on their website, "Membership in the Scottish Rite is based upon personal integrity and good character, without reference to race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or national origin." They represent hundreds of thousands of members from 35 jurisdictions in the US. I hope grand lodges and grand masters who are considering writing bans against gay members into their codes consider the AASR's position. It's not something that the fraternity needs to be concerning itself with. What a Mason does in his bedroom is none of our business, aside from the wording in our obligations. Let's keep it that way.

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  19. Bro. Colbaugh, with great respect, its a conjectural matter whether Divinity, Creator, God, Deity, Spirit, and variants are answers in various lodges and rituals..especially as an acceptable reply in all the various languages used for initiations.

    If the Enlightenment roots of Masonry are considered, unquestionably much of the Christian terminology from guild days were stricken in the early 18th century...for good reason. And presumably denominations like the Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, Society of Friends (Quakers), Unitarians and Universalists, and many others that have gay clergy and perform gay ceremonies such as marriage and christening are not of the opinion that their god is against homosexuality.

    Those denominations which have sizable numbers that do not worship an anthropomorphic god or trinity would not have an anti gay view based on divine sanction, and in any event deism, - so much a part of Masonic history - generally views deity as non interventionist in human affairs.

    That is all a good reason for our traditional Masonic avoidance of religious discussion, which goes back to times when religious differences led to war and violence. We respect each other, we acknowledge the freedom to have different views, we honor your commitment to your particular religion, and we do not impose the views of one sect or another on our fellow Masons. If a church for example bans alcohol or card playing or dancing, or the consumption of pork or having a sabbath on Sunday rather than Saturday, or bans he use of medicine and doctors, that is respected but not something imposed on all of us.

    This is a wordy comment to your view, and apologies for that, but it is essential that our personal views on theology and what we think is an almighty revelation not be imposed as they have been now by some grand lodges. The essence of Masonry and of its influence on America is in honoring and appreciating our diversity, and appreciating it.

    Fraternally,

    Bro.Paul Rich

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  20. Brother Tom,

    Of course you are right about being careful about the the nuances in Masonic references to recognition and regularity.

    There is something to add as well.

    Recognition is a testimony to the other parties’ bona fides. In academia we recognize fellow universities in various associations, but not degree mills. The same applies to hospitals that belong to medical associations, and to companies that belong to stock exchanges. And so on.

    Recognition testifies that a commonality and adherence to standards exists.

    That does not exist between the lodges that admit people regardless of ethnic background or gender, and those which discriminate, ignoring rights that are basic to what makes us proud of America.

    When a grand lodge continues to recognizes another grand lodge that discriminates against African Americans, it is countenancing that behavior, and compounds the error when it does not recognize other grand lodges in the same state that do admit African Americans. Discrimination voids any defence using the notion of exclusive jurisdiction.

    The idea that each grand lodge is able to do what it wants does not relieve grand lodges of their moral responsibilities. A sports team cannot ignore discrimination by another team , and if necessary has to drop them from the schedule. We cannot expect less of Masonic lodges.

    Failure to stand up for human dignity makes irregular the grand lodges that recognize discriminating lodges.

    The situation has gone on for many years, and all of us have been guilty of turning a blind eye.

    The banning of gays has compounded the situation. Persistence in recognizing grand lodges that discriminate will put the public activities of every grand lodge at serious risk. Continuing, it will eliminate Masonry from the public arena and prevent its participation in school programs, holiday observances, medical programs involving government monies, tax relief: those who think otherwise are deluded.

    We cannot expect in the future military color guards, courtesies at patriotic monuments, special privileges that have enhanced our profile. We are going to be increasingly unwelcome. Young men who are concerned about their careers will be wary. Our efforts to stop our decline will be stymied. It is the responsibility of the Masonic leadership to do something, and statements such as those of Utah and California while welcome are not sufficient.

    Bro. Paul Rich



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  21. As a new Mason in GA, I have been very engaged. I have actually read the books given to me, and feel like I have a good general understanding of the messages Masonry tries to teach.

    Masonry endeavors to teach MEN how to live, so that when they die, they will be prepared to go into GOD's kingdom. The Bible (can't speak for other religious books), no matter what religious denomination you believe, condemns homosexuality.

    This is not intolerance. This is pushing political agendas of acceptance. If a person were to actually be gay, sure, go do your thing. But how many people would actually be this way without the media saying we have to accept gay right and like it, it's great being gay.

    Therefore, as a new Mason, in GA, i?I'm glad our GL is choosing to follow God's word and not the politic pushing media's.

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    1. Jonathan, as a new Mason I'm afraid you misunderstand the most basic tenets of the institution. The Old Testament condemns many activities under Mosaic Law, while the New Testament - and especially Christ's words themselves - say nothing about homosexuality.

      While you believe homosexuality to be sinful, there are many Christian denominations that are silent on the matter, and have openly homosexual clergy. That is their interpretation of Scripture, and it obviously differs from yours. It is an opinion, no matter how strongly you may feel about it.

      Precisely because of this difference of opinion, Freemasonry forbids religious and political discussion in its lodges. It welcomes men of ALL faiths, as long as they believe in a Supreme Being. This rule predates the establishment of your own Grand Lodge.

      If the rule did not exist, an incoming Grand Master could use his own interpretation of his faith and his favored sacred writings as justification to dictate edicts that you would find in opposition to yours. That is why what your immediate Past Grand Master did last year was misguided as a Masonic leader. Yes, he got a majority of voting members who agreed with his opinion to pass his edict into law. (Frankly, if he issued the edict without supporting commentary from the Bible, he'd probably be under less international condemnation from other jurisdictions, but that's another topic.)

      If you are scanning the web, have a look sometime at the website of the Grand Lodge of Israel.

      http://www.freemasonry.org.il

      Their official seal features a Jewish Star of David, a Christian cross, and an Islamic Crescent moon, along with a square and compass. In all of the Middle East, it is in the Masonic lodges of Israel where men of all faiths regularly put aside their differences and seek to meet each other on the level as true brethren. The Grand Lodge of Israel has approximately 1,200 members who comprise at least five major religions and meet in 56 lodges, working in ten languages. In 2011, they elected a Palestinian as their Grand Master. Masonry's Ancient Charges outlawing dogmatic religious and political discussion is how a lodge and grand lodge can function in a place like that, where no two people on the streets of Jerusalem can religiously agree on anything. And that is how our own grand lodges need to be governed.

      Six years ago in your state, an Atlanta lodge elected a black man as a member. When word traveled across Georgia, two lodges brought Masonic charges against the lodge and its members for violating what they both called "Moral Law." If you read your GL code, I'm sure yours is like most others, in that it says that Masons are to be governed by the "Moral Law" with no further explanation. But many Masons at the time defined it as being guided by the Bible. So what part of the Bible was used to justify those Masonic charges?

      I welcome you to the fraternity as a new brother, and I hope you will have a long and happy association with it. But you need to dig a little deeper in your understanding of how and why we say and do what we do. It's not as easy as we sometimes make it sound. Meeting and acting on the level and the square is such a simple sounding concept, but it's tough to actually pull off. It sometimes means looking at it through someone else's eyes and knowing when to be silent on something you feel strongly about.

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    2. That has to be the most naive statement ever made by a brother.

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  22. As a member of a Utah lodge (Rocky Mountain #11), I am proud that our Grand Lodge has taken the stance to recognize all good men as simply good men. Frankly, it's surprising to me given the emphasis on what requirements are necessary to be a Mason, and how Masons should treat all people, that this is even a conversation thats happening. It seems very plain.

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  23. April 29, 2016. From Kenneth Ellman, email:ke@kennethellman.com, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860.
    I find this discussion of Homosexuality and Masonic Law and Beliefs unexpected and fascinating. There is utterly no question that the "Old Testament" condemns Homosexuality and calls it an "abomination". There is also no question that Homosexuality as many other prohibitions have been with humanity since the beginning of recorded civilization, as far back as we can know. If Masonic Law considers the Old Testament as imposing an obligation upon Masonic members then it speaks for itself. If Masonic Law does not allow any particular religious doctrine, including the Old Testament to effect the Masonic beliefs, then the prohibitions of the "Old Testament" do not matter for Masonic purposes. Unlike the "New Testament", the "Old Testament" has many highly specific legal qualifications for Israel and to a certain extent the Old Testament is a book of laws. The Laws of the Old Testament are good and in some respects wonderful. But they may not be good for the conduct of a Masonic Lodge. Perhaps the codes of Masonic Law prohibit Homosexuality, but if so I have not seen them. I think it is a simple legal question, nothing more or less. The issue of morality is difficult and the brotherhood of a Masonic Lodge may not survive imposition of laws from other spheres of conduct and demands. I find many aspects of human sexuality and sexual choices to be terribly destructive, particularly of those who cannot defend themselves. The destructive aspects of sexuality exist side by side with the compelling pull and power of love that has built our civilization and which makes life worth living. Love and evil side by side is faced every day in many aspects of human life. So perhaps Freemasonry should concentrate as I think it normally does on issues of character, honesty, truthfulness and brotherhood, rather than taking on an issue that has no resolution for those on either side. You choose your close personal friends and that individual choice always remains. I am interested in this subject as a social and legal question and appreciate any communication addressing such. Kenneth Ellman, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860. Email:ke@kennethellman.com

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ATTENTION!
Kindly sign your comment posts. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers, as far as I am concerned, and may be deleted if I don't recognize you or if I'm in a grumpy mood.