Brother Paul J. Rich is a Freemason who lives in Washington, D.C. Over the years, I have read several of his Masonic research papers, and back in 2009 I was lucky enough to hear him speak in person at the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry, where he delivered a paper about the dubious history of a Masonic apron that purportedly belonged to Robert Burns. That was a dangerous thing to do deep in the heart of Scotland - even more so because he did it in the main hall of the Grand Lodge of Scotland!
Today, he is the president of the Policy Studies Organization in Washington, D.C. Brother Rich has a fascinating history. He is very well traveled and experienced, and he is an academic gentleman and Brother for whom I have the very deepest regard.
Paul just weighed in briefly on the discussion about the recent actions against gay Freemasons in Tennessee (and Georgia). I feel that it is a comment that should be more widely shared with all modern Masons today, and not just buried in the depths of an online discussion.
Part of the crisis in the lodges over gay marriage is because of a change in the background of Masonic leadership, which has become less culturally literate at a time when the country is becoming more educated. An elite in grand lodges to an extent has become increasingly blue collar and lower middle class. Religions being to an extent a reflection of social class, the religious composition of some jurisdictions has changed.
The result includes the loss of Masonic cultural literacy, which means unawareness of the importance of the jettisoning of Christianity from the Craft in the early eighteenth century (and perhaps hints of that even before in the time of Christopher Wren and the Royal Society). Anderson and his cohorts in London embraced this change, and the lodges dropped Trinitarianism, providing forums that attracted men like Benjamin Franklin because of their freedom from orthodox religion.
Now with the increasing exit of educated members, there is a trend in some Masonic jurisdictions to move away from secularism and embrace a religiosity evidenced in the organist playing hymns and the prayers invoking an anthropomorphism rather than the Supreme Architect that the Enlightenment embraced. With that comes a Biblical literalism and its accompanying morality that should be left along with other theology outside the lodge room. The genius of Masonry was its insistence on providing a nondogmatic place of fellowship, so unusual at the time.
The separation of church and state in America has something to do with the contribution made by Masonic secularism. Andrew Jackson, Grand Master of Tennessee, found himself roundly criticized for refusing to declare a national day of prayer. He replied that he would be,
"...transcending the limits prescribed by the Constitution for the President and without feeling that I might in some degree disturb the security which religion nowadays enjoys in this country in its complete separation from the political concerns of the General Government." -- letter to the Synod of the Reformed Church of North America, 12 June 1832, explaining the request that he proclaim a "day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer."
He understood the importance of demarcation.
By all means people should have their views on marriage, but to impose in Freemasonry their religious beliefs on others stands against a centuries-old and successful openness that had much to do with the success of the movement.