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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Grand Masters of Massachusetts, Illinois React To Tennessee Vote

The following message was issued this morning by MW Harvey J. Waugh, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts AF&AM:

March 25th, 2016

Dear Brethren:
By now, word has traveled far and wide about the actions of the Grand Lodges of Tennessee and Georgia. For those of you who have not heard the news, these jurisdictions have recently decided to exclude men from the rights and privileges of Freemasonry on the basis of sexual orientation.
For over 282 years, men free born, of lawful age, and well recommended have been welcomed and accepted as Freemasons in Massachusetts.
Anyone meeting the following primary requirements may petition a Massachusetts lodge for membership:
  1. An adult male (18 or older) of good character.
  2. Men who believe in a Supreme Being – no atheist or agnostic can become a Mason – beyond that, we are not concerned with theological distinctions or particular religious beliefs.
  3. Men interested in becoming a Mason because they hold a favorable opinion of our institution; whose decision to apply is based on their own free will and accord.
These requirements have not changed. Freemasonry is a fellowship of friends and brothers who meet together for fraternal relations and association.
A fraternity is defined as a group of people associated or formally organized for a common purpose, or the feeling of friendship that exists between people in a group.
Freemasonry has been and always will strive to be the premier fraternity that meets both accepted usages of the term.
Any action that runs contrary to the common purpose of Freemasonry and feeling of friendship that exists in our lodge rooms runs afoul of the basic tenets of Freemasonry: brotherly love, relief, and truth.
It is of no concern to us whether or not a man is gay, as long as he is free born, of lawful age, and well recommended.
As always brethren, take due notice thereof and govern yourselves accordingly.

Harvey J. Waugh
Grand Master



3/26/16: The Grand Master of Illinois, MW Anthony R. Cracco, issued a statement in reaction to the GL of Tennessee vote Saturday morning on the official GL Facebook page (click image to enlarge slightly):


  1. This is a great approach. Let every Grand Jurisdiction make its commitments to principle clear.

    1. An interesting footnote on the antiquity of Massachusetts masonry and its ecumenical broadminded flavor is that meetings of St. John's Lodge, which has met continuously in Boston since 1733, were sometimes held during the 18th century in the royal governor's church, King's Chapel, which also is still going strong and which changed from Anglican to Unitarian after the Revolution -- but uses the old Episcopal Book of Common Prayer with the Trinity deleted --http://theneopress.prosite.com/246339/6900602/venues/kings-chapel-boston

      People of different colors and gender likes and religions can get along if they try. America is about diversity, this Easter and since 1733 at least.

    2. Think you should know that I TN African Americans have there own lodge called Prince Hall and they do not allow whites in there lodge this issue isn't adv issue here it's outside people trying to get us to conform to your beliefs

  2. My congratulations to MWB Waugh for his eloquent statement on this sensitive issue.

  3. A brother from Massachusetts here who lived in the South for 10 years: This is a clear cut case of right and wrong. There is no gray area. The brothers in TN and GA are WRONG. As Harvey Waugh states, the three requirements are what they are. Get out of 1955 and join modern Masonry. No excuses. Stop living in fear of what is different from you and welcome your fellow brethren be they Muslim, Jewish, gay, bisexual, married, unmarried... this is the way of the world now. Get used to it. I move to shut down all lodges in TN and GA that act in this fashion. A sanction from their Grand Lodge granting them permission to be bigots does not make it big. Big bigots approving of little bigots. Yuck. Gross.

    1. You are completely right. The southern grand lodges that exclude African Americans, and those that exclude gays, and the ancillary bodies like the Scottish Rite that segregate by only taking "regular" members of those segregationist and racist bodies, must be excluded from the Craft. Let them go their own bigoted way. The same with the women's and youth groups that segregate. Out. Now. Awful awful people.

  4. When will we as a society stop putting up with these sorry excuses for human beings? In my view, they should all be expelled from the rights and benefits of Masonry forever and their lodges shut down for good. It is certainly NOT within my cable-tow to help bigoted, angry fools.

  5. I used to be a Mason here in Tennessee (MM, Shrine, Scottish, Eastern Star) but I am not and have not been for well over a decade. Went inactive in all when they sneered as my family's troubles. When they say they help each other, they mean help certain people in the group. Usually the wealthiest. And what hypocrites on this issue. "Moral character". Do they kick out adulterers, liars, and members who prey on the public for their income? Of course not. Those have often been at the highest leadership posts. The charity work is good, and maybe one day some Mason will talk me into it again (with reservations), but this ban on gays just adds to the trouble. Masons support "personal liberty", as long as it falls within their personal definition. Andrew Frennier Mount Juliet, TN

  6. A bit disappointing that recognition was not withdrawn. Perhaps the GM is waiting to put it to a vote but anything less than withdrawing of recognition is just lip service.

  7. I agree 100% with MWB Waugh. The actions taken in TN and GA condone bigotry and give Freemasonry a bad name.

  8. I salut his comments, it is true that it's time to move forward and clear out our craft's name from such actions. I think it's also time for the several scandinavian grand lodges which only admit a certain religious group to their lodges, preventing many others from enjoying the light given by our fraternity.

    1. The Swedish Rite actually has good reasons for making Christianity a requirement that makes sense in their context. It's not quite the same issue.

    2. It most certainly is the same issue - elevation of one religion over another is not permitted in Freemasonry and therefore these Scandinavian bodies should no longer be recognized.They are violating the tenets and landmarks of Freemasonry just the same as the segregationist down south are.

  9. Our GM's response was similar.


    J Liley PGM
    MW GL of Utah

  10. Good comments, but I caution moderation and sensitivity on this issue. After all, we are Masons. We can remain firm in our beliefs, opinions, and actions without being cruel or unsympathetic.

    Brute force or strength will avail us little and only incite resistance. As Masons, we should always remember the three theological virtues and four cardinal ones.

    We should also respect the rights, LIGHTS, and privileges of others outside our country and treat this as an American Masonic issue which must be solved and addressed by American Freemasons!

    That being said, I hope I donot hear another American Freemason suggest, even jokingly, that we American Masons should in any way, type or form, try to change the Christian requirement of the Swedish Rite or in some way interfere with the legal Governance of Scandinavian Masonry.

    Any American Brother attempting such a thing will find resistance from unknown quarters.😈 And Tom Accuosti, you are 100 hundred percent correct.

    1. Well, the situation is complex and one of the misunderstood aspects of the various Scandinavian (and in at least one of the German rites) lodges is that some have an alternative degree system for clergy of the formerly established national churches. Another is that in the Swedish case the penultimate degree is at the same time an award of the Swedish state, still being conferred despite an elimination imposed on the Monarchy of many of the Swedish orders. In fact, concerned that the age of members was preventing effective staging of the degree, the king of Sweden, despite not being the grand master like his uncle has added supernumerary members.

      The consequences of the growing secularization of those countries for the continued Lutheran flavor of the system remains to be seen in the long run. And there is an alternative non Christian degree system in Denmark. One also should mention that the Finnish degrees in most of the country are really close to those given in New York with the exception of an area of Finland which is Swedish speaking and has reserved political rights.

      Since the ritual work both parallels both the subordinate blue lodges and degrees in the Scottish or Ancient Rite, visitors have to deal with a table of parallels.

      It should not be beyond doing to resolve the admission of non Christians in universalizing the craft while preserving the antiquarian aspects. That holds for other rites and degrees. Why should adjustment and innovation be left to the Chevalier Ramsay, Thomas Dunkerley, and Albert Pike.

      What we need is educated good humor and leadership. The Scandinavian problem is not based on racism as are the problems of the southern grand lodges. One of the reasons for the crisis is that the system of grand representatives between grand lodges has largely meant being honored rather than seeing the appointment as calling for work. Being a grand representative should mean more than getting the proceedings of the grand lodge represented in the mail.

      Frankly, we have a large number of grand officers who haven't a clue. The African dictator problem draws a blank stare, the racial challenges of ancillary groups like the Social Order of the Beauceant might as well be a three blackboard chemistry formula, the public relations consequences of the 9th and 10th degree aprons with their relationship to ISIS are an enigma. We are leaderless, with too little too late.

  11. As an Alabama mason I am disappointed in my neighboring jurisdictions, TN and GA, for the actions they have taken. My views concur with the statements to made from the Mass. Grand Master as well as the many other jurisdictions who have spoken similar words. I am also disappointed in my own jurisdiction for the refusal to recognize Prince Hall masons as "regular". Not being a PH mason I cannot speak for the business or opinions of PH Grand Lodge of AL. However, there are many F.A.& M. Masons in AL that want this changed. I feel this will change soon. I think it is foolish to sever ties with the TN and GA Grand Lodges punishing the masons that are against their Grand Lodge's decision. Whether it was a majority vote or a unilateral decision by the GL officers I'm sure the brothers who are against it would still like the opportunity to travel and attend lodge with their brothers from other states. It is sad that bigotry still exists today in our country. I pray that hearts will be softened and tolerance and acceptance of our gay brothers will exist as we currently tolerate and accept brothers of differing faiths.

    1. Do the segregated southern lodges sponsor integrated DeMolay, Rainbow and Jobs groups. That would seem odd if so. As with the Shrine and Scottish Rite, they apparently segregate those bodies by segregating the blue lodge and thus denying them multi racial sponsors. Similarly, by banning gays they exclude gays from the Scottish Rite,Shrine, Royal Arch and other bodies. Its a neat trick, because those bodies dont have to segregate as it is taken care of by the grand lodges and denying the first three degrees.

    2. Following the vote at the last Job's Daughters Supreme session, none of the youth groups still require a Masonic affiliation for membership. From what I have seen in the Job's Daughter's groups, the youth see the lack of diversity in their organizations and are pushing to change it. I pity the Mason who tries to stop them.

    3. Now that the Boy Scouts have welcomed gay scoutmasters and camp personnel, and earlier opened wide the doors to gay scouts and cubs, and lesbian den mothers, several major denominations have lifted their ban on scouting,including the United Church of Christ,Reformed Judaism, Unitarian, Universalists. Time for redressing the balance for DeMolay Dads,Rainbow advisers, and others -- reaching out for gay group involvement:


      DeMolay is growing in Brazil and if the headquarters is to remain in the US and if it is to retain Masonic ties, its advisers have to be committed to diversity -- southern lodges are alas suspect.

      The cigar gifts along with the 9th and 10th degree beheadings are simply a sign of the loss of an educated and sharp leadership: no sense of the times at all and of course making those of us who want to be proud of masonry feeling ashamed for a dozen reasons. Look at the confused half way replies of grand masters -- its terribly wrong but im not going to do anything. Pathetic.


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