Wednesday, April 20, 2016

GL of Tennessee's 2016 Grand Master's Pin

Grand Lodge of Tennessee Grand Master Billy Ray Cutlip's official pin for 2016-17.



From the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's official webpage:
The mission of Freemasonry is to promote a way of life that binds like minded men in a worldwide brotherhood that transcends all religious, ethnic, cultural, social and educational differences; by teaching the great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth: and, by the outward expression of these, through its fellowship, its compassion and its concern, to find ways in which to serve God, family, country, neighbors and self."

Also found on the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's website under "History":
It is strange, and yet a commentary on human nature, that Masonry has been accused by some detractors as being atheistic; at the same time, others accuse it of being a religion. The first charge evolves from the fact that Masonry teaches religious liberty, will not give preference to any specific religious denomination, and refuses to interfere with a Mason's religious duties. The second charge, that of being a religion, is equally ridiculous. It is true, however, that we often call our buildings "Temples" or "Masonic Temples." It is true that all regular Lodges have altars upon which the Holy Bible is displayed. In countries where the members are not Christians or Jews, the appropriate "Book of the Law" is displayed. It is also a fact that Masonic meetings are always opened and closed with prayer. However, Masonry is not a religion, and any member who states otherwise is mistaken. The presence of the Bible in the courtroom or the offering of prayer at any public gathering does not make churches of those places. There is only one religious test for a man to become a Mason: he must believe in a Supreme Being. 

73 comments:

  1. A Christian cross -- some denominations, Quakers and Mormons for example, do not use the cross. And in any event, it is sectarian. Moreover, some denominations do not refer to God. Observant Jews do not invoke his name in that way, believing it is blasphemy. And so on. In short, it is theologically illiterate and certainly another indication that the southern grand lodges are an affront to worldwide masonry.

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    1. None of the mainstream, orthodox or liturgical authorities of the Church recognize Mormonism as a form of Christianity, nor do they accept the validity of a Mormon baptism. The Latter Day Saints have their own Holy Scriptures and reject 'the Christian cross' in the same manner that they tend to reject much of what most Christians would consider to be canon.

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    2. They reject the Nicine and Athanesian creeds, but they do accept The Bible And believe in Christ, all of which is irrelevant as Freemasonry should respect the beliefs of all who believe in God whether credal Christian, non-credal Christian or non Christian.

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    3. While SOME Grand Master continue to hold a narrow view of religion, your painting of "southern" in both inaccurate and unkind. 20 years ago there were a number of references in the GL of AL edicts that were sectarian, however all of these have been amended to reflect the universal nature of the fraternity. Remember also that TN is 81% Christian,14% unaffiliated and only 3% non-Christian faiths. For many, an Episcopalian is a rare sight, much less a Mormon, Jew or Muslim.

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    4. Wayne, I am happy to hear about the actions of the GL of Alabama.

      As to the stats on TN's makeup... So when their website says that Masonry in their jurisdiction "transcends all religious" differences, they are referring to Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and the occasional 7th Day Adventist that might wander in...

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    5. Well, are we talking about the
      Temple Lot Churches which hold the property in Independence, Missouri, where Jesus will return, or the larger sect that insisted on a descendant of Joseph Smith as its leader that have builta he other groops, or sort of collapsing them regardless of differing beliefs into one - the Independence conch shell group has backed away from Mormon scriptures and become more Biblical. The rejection of crosses is partly because Jesus was not crucified but came to Central America and had a ministry in Honduras. In any case, Mormons often belong to the local councils of churches and give congressional invocations..

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    6. Brother Simon's 81% is misleading and inaccurate, as 49% of the total Tennessee adult population have no religious affiliation at all --

      http://www.city-data.com/states/Tennessee-Religions.html

      Brother Simon uses figures somewhat dated based on who then belonged to an organized religious body, not on the total population. If one googles, about 42% of the adult population, male and female, in Tennessee presently attend a religious body. One can assume that by factoring this, about 18% are evangelical, although as we have seen, rather pronounced in views. The 81% figure is very misleading, and as the studies by the Pew Foundation have recently shown, the decline among young people is extraordinary. States do vary. In Vermont in a given year only 17% attend a religious body.

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    7. The church (Independence Conch Shell Group) Bro Rich speaks of shows his misunderstanding and dare say "ignorance" of facts. I have been a life long member of the "Community of Christ" church, which was once called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am over 50 years old and have seen a cross within our church, our temple, and many other places since long before I was born. I was given a bible when I was baptized, and it is always read at services, preached about, etc. Your speaking of such things, which I must assume you Know nothing of, reaffirm my belief that speaking of religion and politics should be kept out of the lodge.Misunderstanding of a faith, any faith is one main reason, another is individual bias and prejudice regarding attempted classification of someone's beliefs.

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    8. Brother Francis, the Reorganized Mormons - a branch of which that you belong to - held to the requirement of leadership descended from the Prophet. Over the years this was dropped and for some the authority of the Mormon scriptures became more subordinate to a version of the Bible not necesarily the Smith revision, along with that the very unusual building in Independence received the approval of the Authorities, and then the name itself of the denomination was changed as well as some of the rituals. Various groups that objected to these changes left and started their own denominations and indeed they are physically present in some numbers in the Independence area. I of course accept your experiences but think you have to acknowledge the -- shall we call it evolution - of the Reorganized Mormons and the fact that their practices differ from those of other Mormon denominations and indeed from those of Temple Lot or many other Mormon groups in the Independence area. You and I completely agree that the tradition of not involving masonry in religion is very wise. The paths taken by members of the Reorganized Mormons and their relationship to the Salt Lake City Mormons viz possible 19th century masonry are for anyone interested in history of course important. Of course the conch shell has Jewish significance, but that is another matter.

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    9. My family have been members of the CoC for over 100 years. You perhaps might find of some large Masonic interest to note that the majority of the "Mormon" leadership from Smith all the way to present day is and were masons. There are many masonic academic writings on this subject, and I would suggest if you are ever in the Salt Lake area to visit the masonic temple, it is very majestic.
      Might I suggest doing some historical research of happened upon the death of Joseph Smith. The split because of differences, took place in 1800's, not recently. The church splintered into three major denominations, those that stayed under the original ideals formed by him, "Reorganized", and the now much more recognized "Mormon" church left to go west. Yes, brother, I agree that like any faith that splinters into different factions because of differences of opinion would be normal event. The split of Lutherans and Catholics are just one example. The change of leadership came about not because of a "change" in ideals, it came about because it was necessary. The last adult descendant of Joseph Smith declined leadership and(this occurred less than 20 years ago.
      The conch shell building you note is the Temple (which also serves as church headquarters) of my faith, the Community of Christ. There are 250,000 members of the church worldwide and I know personally many who are masons. Might I also suggest that you do some research on the interpreted meaning of the shell, it has much more significance to early Christians than those of the Jewish faith. You might find it very interesting in its symbolism.
      The often misguided discussion around Mormon scripture taking a front seat to the bible is highly misguided or even unfounded (especially considering that I live and work within an area of the largest group of LDS members in the world outside Salt Lake City).They, not unlike masons prefer to keep many things private. These differences occur often within denominations. The Catholic bible is different from the Lutheran or the King James version. This could also be said of our fraternity, there are many different versions of everything from ritual to becoming a master mason.

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  2. What Paul said. Good Grief...

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  3. I mean absolutely no disrespect to our Brethren in the southern U.S....but from my own personal observations, I think masonry down there has been influenced far more by modern American Christian Evangelicalism than the philosophies of the enlightenment period of the 17th & 18th centuries.

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    1. Where is the line of allowing a brother to express his religious views within the context of Free Masonry and stifling any discussion of religion outside the confines of the tiled lodge? I am not of the southern jurisdiction and they haven't exactly been doing themselves any favors lately but to me Free Masonry is built on the belief of a Supreme God or Being so using the term God doesn't necessarily invoke in me an exclusionary view.

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    2. It's the Christian cross that's the issue, not the mention of God. Although, there is a slight design question in my mind involving the replacement of the letter G with the map of Tennessee. But maybe that's just me.

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    3. What about the York Rite which this GM is a member of according to his bio on the Tennessee GL website. Is this not imagery associated with a body that also represents Freemasonry? I just don't find this offensive until it starts showing up in official correspondence.

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    4. Chris, it's a very simple concept. Believe what you wish, find comfort in your faith, let everyone else do the same, and we'll all get along just fine. When a GM places a specific religious icon on a logo that is, by definition, designed to represent ALL good Brothers of the Craft, he discounts all other faiths. How can a good Jewish Brother, for example, support his GL by wearing a pin or accepting a coin for hard work that advertises a faith that is not his own? Religion is SPECIFICALLY forbidden in the Craft as THIS is precisely the division and derision that surfaces when it appears. In this case, he is not representing all Brothers in his jurisdiction as GM and that's the point.

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    5. Yes Brother, it most certainly has. I am convinced more than ever, that the so called "Dominionist movement" which I paid little attn to until recently, definetly has been infiltrated and has taken full control of Tennessee Masonry. They are indeed a sinsiter bunch, and much evil can be more successfully pulled off in the name of jesus than the name of GAOTU any day.

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    6. also reading his bio it is pretty clear that off all h is "Masonic affiliation, the scottish rite- is but a happenstance. I had a PM make very clear to me that 'as a christian he cannot be in the scottish rite'- and as he was trying to save me at the time and when I refused he stated he would not sit in lodge with me, was very disturbing.

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  4. Your comment concerning "southern grand lodges" is an affront to every Mason and belies an attitude unworthy of anyone who purports to believe in the tenets of our institution. Try to remember those truly Masonic virtues, silence and circumspection, before espousing such an ignorant opinion

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    1. Racial, gender, and religious prejudice contradict the Masonic virtues. Bro. Pitoscia is completely right. The southern grand lodges which are Jim Crow are an affront.

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    3. I think any poster who posts an opinion or other comment here should do so publicly if you want to be taken seriously. Better to take a stand for something and get ridiculed for it than to be an unknown. I do it myself all the time ;) ... Signed, a tenet of our institution believer.

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    4. In this case in particular I'm not in agreement with you. Tennessee Masons are under an edict that forbids discussion of any GL matter outside of the lodge room, and especially on social media. Suspensions are already in the works for some. So, I can't really be too stringent about demanding they share their identity here.

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    5. I will say this. Thank you for giving them a forum while protecting their privacy or security. No Grand Lodge should ever hold their members hostage because of a official position that the leaders chose to take.

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  5. I mean absolutely no disrespect to our Brethren in the south...but from my personal observations, I believe that masonry down there has been influenced far more by modern American Christian Evangelicalism rather than the philosophies of the enlightenment period of the 17th and 18th centuries.

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    1. Lodge isn't your church, and church isn't your lodge.

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  6. As a Past Master who is seeking a demit as of this moment from the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. I can not believe believe this. It was such a debacle at the Grand Lodge on religious ground to eliminate homosexuals to be masons. Religion should not be discuss in lodge same for politics. I am Jewish the cross should not be on the pen. Freemasonry is not a religion. We believe in a Supreme Being. How you worship that Supreme Being is your own business. Well as George Takei says on the taco bell commercial Ooooooh My!!!!!!!

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  7. Interesting comment posted on Facebook today:

    "In 1863, one Prosonno Coomar Dutt applied to become a Freemason to his local Lodge in Calcutta. However the District Grand Lodge of Bengal did not feel that Hindus and Muslims were “eligible for admission into the Mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry on any ground whatsoever.” Mr Dutt wanted to become a Freemason and undaunted by his rejection, wrote to the Earl of Zetland, the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. The opinion of the Grand Master was that there was no prohibition against membership for “anyone who professed a belief in the Great Architect of Heaven and Earth and who was in any other respects worthy to be admitted into the Order.” Brother Dutt’s perseverance paid off: in 1872, Bro P C Dutt was initiated, passed and raised in Anchor and Hope Lodge in Calcutta. He later rose to become Deputy District Grand Master of Bengal."
    (How Hindus were admitted into the Mysteries of Freemasonry, published by K P Mookerjee & Co, Calcutta, 1905)

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  8. I agree with Michael and Paul. Masonry transcends individual religion and country. I'm certainly not a Christian in anyway, but I am a worthy brother Freemason, and in case you're concerned I do believe in a higher power and I do have and practice a religion. Just not Christianity. I've run into far too many southern brothers that seem to think their religion is the purpose of Masonry.

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  9. Well the Christian cross speaks for itself. This is great big middle finger to all Freemasons that aren't Christian, including myself as I am a Jew.

    But I'd also like to talk about the slogan, "Put God Back In America." I wasn't aware that God ever left, but never mind that. IT'S A BLATANTLY POLITICAL STATEMENT. All of this is political. They're furious that the Supreme Court gave gays the right to marry. They're angry that gays and transgender people are demanding protection from discrimination and (in some states) getting it. That's what all of this is about and it shows just how petty and childish these Grand Masters in Tennessee and Georgia are. It should be surprising that men so lacking in maturity can rise to the top of a Grand Lodge, but based on what I've heard about the atmosphere at last month's annual meeting in TN, it's not surprising at all.

    They're no brothers of mine. But then again, I'm sure they already felt that way about me since I'm not a Christian.

    Dave Brown
    Garden City Lodge, Newtonville, MA

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  10. I can appreciate this Grand Master's opinion ... indeed it's a strong one. Better to stand for something than to fall for anything I always say. However, this does not conform to universal Masonic beliefs - if the Grand Lodge of Tennessee continues to present itself in these matters - may eventually become like one of those Grand Lodges in France - where it becomes clandestine ... thereby suffering all it's subordinate Lodges and numerous brethren.

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    1. Universality in Freemasonry can be a subjective thing...depending upon the time and the context. In the 18th Century, it would appear to be a spirit of ecumenicism that was fostered amongst a largely Trinitarian membership. Further back you go in Masonic history, the more thoroughly Christian the content of the ritual and catechism. We forget also that not every country's Masonic authorities agreed to go along with the changes in Anglo Freemasonry that came about as a result of the Lodge of Reconciliation.

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  11. In the opinion of this southern PM, that pin is absolutely unmasonic. If I were a member of the grand lodge of Tennessee, I would work to ensure that this GM does not remain as a member of the craft after his term expires.

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  12. Now that is a collectable! Politics be damned, I want one of those.

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  13. Well said. Billy Cutlip indeed. These are not the kind of people I would want to share a Starbucks with, let alone a lodge.

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  14. My Brothers; I also do not feel it is at all appropriate for the Grand Lodge or any of its officers to display a logo or lapel pin with any religous symbol - Christian or otherwise. Respect for our Brothers of other denominations and faith traditions would preclude any action which - in the name of Freemasonry - might exclude them or damage their conscience.

    I am appalled, however, at how quickly we rush to judgment and condemnation of a brother and would go so far as to say he is not a brother because we disagree with his religious or political orientation. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign and stands alone only subject to the rules and votes of the brethren in that grand jurisdiction. Agree or disagree with this, I think none of us would wish it any differently. Only as other Grand jurisdictions choose to continue, or withhold amity and otherwise whisper good counsel in the ear of a brother Master Mason can any change be affected. We fail to forget that traditions and influences in many Grand Lodges are different than our own. I do not condone the mixing of religion into statements about Freemasonry, more especially as the Grand Master of this jurisdiction has chosen to do, and as the only spokesman for the Craft in Tennessee, but let us take the more noble part and not condemn but encourage the importance of the universal tenets of our Craft. It is a lesson that all of us must continually learn.
    Terry L. Tilton, United Methodist minister - retired and Past Grand Master of Masons of Minnesota

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  15. During your time as grand master, your grand lodge recognized grand lodges that racially discriminate and which continue to racially discriminate. Racial discrimination and gay bashing are not traditions.

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  16. First and foremost, the actions of the GM supported by the voting members of the GL of Tennessee are appalling and not in line with Masonic teachings.

    Next, the GM's pin is just that, HIS pin. It is an expression of his beliefs, not those of the GL of Tennessee. Right or wrong, he's strong enough to put forth those beliefs for anyone to dissect and ridicule.

    Lastly, if this was the pin of Joseph Nobody, GM of the GL of Maine - sorry Maine, I'm just picking a state as an example-, would Mr Hodapp have found it noteworthy enough to post it in his blog, and would anyone else give two flips about it?

    John Arnould, PM, Michigan

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    1. Yes, I would have posted it (did not say a word about it here, apart from quoting their own website) no matter where it originated. It simply happens to have been from TN.

      I understand that the immediate PGM of GA's pin last year featured the reference "John 3:16."

      I know of no other jurisdictions where this has occurred. Maybe you do. If so, feel free to forward the photo and i'll be happy to post it. But I am not picking on these two particular jurisdictions - they did it themselves. And I can guarantee you, the discussions on Facebook, Reddit, and in here about this would have been just as heated if it originated in Maine.

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    2. And as for it being just his pin, as GM, he speaks for Freemasonry in his jurisdiction. As such, he is supposed to be setting an example to his members, and following its precepts. If he wants to be strong enough to put forth his beliefs, that's fine. But not on a trinket handed out to all of his members that immediately tells an albeit small portion of his membership that they are not welcome in his vision of the fraternity.

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    3. I had to stare at the pin during my Powerhead Kangaroo bouncing out ceremony. They experianced a very different me that day. I was lucky to get out of there with 'good Standing' because in no uncertain terms, a "True Masonic Inquisition" has been installed, and to think it will change when he leaves is very american style foolish- the entire Grand Line and all the wannabe's who were there , were there because they desparately Intend to carry on the Cross"... nothing short of an astroid hitting the buling during a Grand lodge will ever 'dislodge' what has been so carefully built by the Dominionist cult. and I will end with my famous 3 words- "Prove Me Wrong".

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  17. Great comment, MWBro.Tilton. I was hoping someone would comment as you did.

    Masonic Charity is so much more than just alms giving even though the giving of alms is important.

    Masonic Charity (Brotherly love) is also good counsel and kindness towards your erring Brother or Brothers. It is recognizing that no man or men are perfect and that each man fights,as Rev. and Bro. Joseph Fort Newton states, "the good fight against many odds."

    It is important for Masons to realize that the summit of Freemasonry is to someday BECOME FULLY AWARE THAT ALL MEN
    ARE BRETHREN. Just because many or most men donot know this does not change the fact of it being true.

    If a Brother or Brothers offend us, make mistakes or travel down the wrong path, instead of disowning him as unworthy, perhaps it would be much better to leave a door open and hope someday for his safe return.😃

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  18. I think the reason why this is noteworthy is because the Grand Lodges of Tennessee and Georgia are adopting policies and practices that violate the principles of regular Freemasonry. That's not just my opinion; smarter people than me, Grand Masters in fact, have added much more color and detail. The reason this GM's pin is relevant is because it serves in part to explain the phenomenon we are witnessing in the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, namely that Grand Master Hasting's views were not unique and GM Cutlip's views provide continuity for sectarian religious and political innovation. Those things alone make this pin noteworthy--not because the GM is violating his right to express himself but because his is expressing his religious and political opinions next to the Square and Compasses and in his official capacity of the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Free & Accepted Masons of Tennessee.

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  19. Here is where I am torn. I feel the Grand Master of Tennessee can have any political view he wants. I also feel he can have what ever faith moves him. But placing the Christian Cross and the "Put God back in America" violates the Landmarks of Masonry. As many have said Masonry is open to any of any faith. Now if the pin said "Put God back in America" I would have no issue with it. I feel God is a huge concept and encompasses a wide range of Deity as God is a very generic term for the Divine. But placing the two together with the symbols of Masonry is wrong. What if a Mason put a Star in C resent along said the S&C? We do have Muslim Masons. The very Masons that agree with this pin and its message would scream and talk about how wrong it is to have the Star and Crescent alongside the Square and Compass. So then why is this OK. I give you the very reason we do not discuss religion or politics in Lodge...and should not. It divides men....when Masonry teaches Brotherly Love and the building of men. While people can think and feel as they please, if it divides us..it has no place in my Fraternity.

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  20. In all this discussion, there has been a lack of appreciation of the diversity of religions in America. Assumptions are being made as to what constitutes Christianity that are untrue. The diversity confirms the masonic wisdom of not getting into religious discussions. For example, there are several varieties of Swedenborgianism - a large Swedenborgian church is just a couple blocks away from the Supreme Council on 16th Street in Washington. Johnny Appleseed was a traveling Swedenborgian minister who gave out seeds on the side, so to speak. Helen Keller was a Swedenborgian. Urbana University is Swedenborgian. Swedenborgians are not Arian Trinitarians. We have a rite of masonry that is based on some of their prophet's works. Christian Scientists do not display crosses and do not believe in the Trinity.. Invoking Jesus is not only out of place when Jews are present, but out of place for many faiths. Earlham Quakers or Friends might welcome something which Philadelphia Friends don't. A point is that our faith communities are numerous and assuming things about them is simply incorrect. A Missouri Synod Lutheran is not at all necessarily from Missouri and is very different in belief from an American Lutheran denomination member. These myriad sects have different views on divorce and gay relations and even whether it is permitted to use buttons (a concern of some Amish groups). Having the masonic hierarchy pontificate on what they think people should or do believe and what is Christianity, on the theological nature of Jesus, the status of the Holy Ghost, and so on is just disastrous. Certainly some denominations find the cross offensive - Mormons for example. We also should be alert to the difference between God and the Great Architect - the Architect being more of an Enlightenment reference and in keeping with the anniversary of the grand lodge being organized in London in 1717. The letter G is not used in some jurisdictions and obviously in some foreign tongues it has no meaning. There are views that it represents the Kings George and loyalty to the Hanoverian dynasty or Geometry. In a deistic context, the references to the Architect are more in keeping with tradition. But put that aside, and let us affirm the wisdom of not getting into all of the sectarianism that led our predecessors to avoid what has now permeated some of the southern grand lodges with disastrous results. We do not all believe in the same god. Not by a long shot. You mention Joseph Fort Newton, who incidentally was a Unitarian Universalist of very strong views and who in keeping with his denomination believed Jesus was simply a human being and Hell a delusion. He would not have appreciated Brother Billy Ray Cutlip, and allegedly remarked, "Don't slap God on the back. You'll miss."

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  21. Brethren,
    Again, I truly meant no disrespect...but to fix a problem, one must (at minimum) acknowledge its potential existence. I was coming from a place of my own personal experience, and let's be fair, I did preface my comment with stating "...from my own personal observation" which is as follows:
    I was visiting a lodge in the south (A lodge that will remain anonymous because I'm not sure what their rules are on discussing balloting-where I'm from it's not allowed) where they were discussing how to change the way they were going to investigate petitioners. It was brought up that perhaps they should ask what church they attend...one member even asked the question something along the lines of how do they know someone has morals I they didn't attend a church at all. I was then told by another that he knew "...for a fact" that someone was turned down for membership for being "Roman Catholic". Not to mention the picture of Jesus on the wall of their dining hall...

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    1. You have nothing to apologize for. I appreciated your comments and I find it immensely disturbing that someone would say they don't feel the actions of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee are "appropriate" and they "don't condone" it, but then reserve a word like "appalled" for how they feel about the way the rest of us are reacting to it. Clearly they think protecting the feelings of reactionaries who wear purple aprons is more important than standing up for the rank-and-file that the reactionaries are attacking, persecuting, and deliberately insulting. The guys with purple aprons seem to care about their golf outings with other guys with purple aprons more than they care about us "little people." They won't stand up for us, but they're willing to stand up for each other and condescendingly lecture us. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise, it's typical that people in positions of importance and influence feel more loyalty to their peers than to ordinary people like ourselves, even when their peers behave badly. But in a fraternity that claims "we are all equals and meet on the level," it's disappointing.

      Dave Brown

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  22. With all due respect but regarding the MW GM of TN's pin... I draw your attention to these words directly from the GL of TN's website. "...the fact that Masonry teaches religious liberty, will not give preference to any specific religious denomination..." These words stand in contrast to the presence of the word 'GOD' and the symbol of the cross in the GM's pin. The word and the symbol denotes religious preference. if we preach (no pun intended) something, then we must practice it - in my humble opinion.

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    1. You have to understand that to some people, respect for "all religious denominations" only means, "all the various Christian denominations." To them, THERE ARE NO OTHER RELIGIONS and anybody claiming to practice a religion other than Christianity isn't really practicing religion at all. To them, if you're not worshiping Jesus, you're not worshiping a Supreme Being.

      They might grudgingly include Jews, as long as they don't have to actually socialize with them.

      So you and I can easily see the contradiction, but to Mister Cutlip, there is no contradiction. His definition of "no preference to any specific denomination" merely means "we don't care if you're a Baptist or a Methodist or a Lutheran, as long as you're a Christian." So he feels no obligation to have any respect for Masons like me that aren't Christian.

      Dave Brown

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  23. While I am not yet a member of a lodge in North Carolina where I am now living, I have visited several lodges in District 28 and one in Charlotte (can't remember the district). I have most often attended Stokes Lodge in Concord, where I was instantly accepted as a brother. No one asked if my sexual orientation or if I was a Republican or Democrat or what religion I was etc and I did not ask the same of the brethren. I accepted them as the did of me.
    When I read the above information about the Grand Master's Pin from Tennessee, I was instantly disappointed in him. To have a religious symbol on the a token of a Grand Master is against what Masonry is. Freemasonry is not a religion, it does not promote one religion over another, or one faith over another, or one political belief over another. All are equal under GAOTU. I come from a lodge in Washington DC that celebrates diversity. We have members from many races, religious faiths, sexual orientations, and political views. None of which are discussed in lodge. Everyone is a brother no matter where they come from whether he is a student from a local university or the President of the United States (MWB Harry S Truman was an honorary member of my Lodge (Hiram-Takoma #10). There have been times where during a degree conferral we have three or four different holy books sitting on the altar. This is what Masonry is about, accepting another man as your brother regardless of his religion, politics etc. Think back to when you took your obligations brethren. Before taking them each time, you were informed that the obligation you were about to take will not interfere with your religion, politics or the allegiance that you owe to your country and you were asked having been informed of this do you wish to proceed. The Grand Master's pin clearly shows political and religious views. Freemasonry is a secular organization not a religious one. Had he left off the Cross and changed God to GAOTU, I would have no problem with it whatsoever. There is a reason why God is referred to as the Grand Architect of The Universe in Masonic teachings. He transcends all faiths in one form or another. We all come from different backgrounds but we travel the same path to the East and that path is lined with brotherly love and acceptance. Sorry if this seems a little like I am rambling or if it is disjointed,

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    1. Many churches have dropped hymnals and liturgies that refer to deity as"he". That is another reason not to have the fraternity made into a cult as it has been in some southern states. You make a good point about the transcendent nature embodied in the idea of the Architect, which is not a "he". The notion that masonry has some sort of theology and that it includes a super anthropomorphic "he" would startle our Enlightenment forefathers. In lodge, references to Jesus, to sectarian beliefs, are not masonry. If a brother believes in a "he", that is for church.

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  24. I am an esoteric mason and have been around the world a few times. Putting God back into ones life is never done with prejudice or malaise. I do not think the pin is really good or bad but when taken in context to the hatred towards another human being..I sense a marginal quality of justice if not outright injustice. No criticism is made of another's views or sovereignity. What I sense is fear and the pain of going forward in the ever changing continuum of life. If one is so powerful as a Grand anything, then maybe a review of the classical tower may be of interest. A tower may allow lording over the land and often times with apparent immunity from justice. But towers fall and this tower is shaking and casting out stones which surely shall cause toppling..taking all hands with it. Justice of the kind I speak is spirit and never an act of physical malaise. But what is unfortunate is the lack of unity in our craft. I don't really think the Georgia or Tennessee decisions are of much impact over all. Until voluntold by our state GL I would be in violation not to recognize my brothers. As a very senior mason once told me... we have the good the bad and the ugly...which category do you fall into. A true mason respects everyone.

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  26. One of the biggest frustrations to many in TN is the lack of meaningful dialogue. We are not a religion and yet “put God back in America” is touting religion. The words “Being a man, Freeborn, and of Lawful age” don’t mean anything if you EXCLUDE ANYONE, except those that are truly non believing in a higher power and do not “qualify” to gain admittance anyway. Unfortunately, The Road in TN is paved by leaders that can’t get passed certain issues and clearly are outdated. It seems to me that if I remember correctly, the lodges have the ability to vote “for the good of the order” and if they vote a man in so be it. If they don’t want him in for any reason, then they have the right to black ball reject him. It should not be up to the GL to decide anything more than what is grounds for misconduct (and that should be reviewed periodically). Religion and politics are supposed to remain out of the Lodge yet clearly the “elders” are trying to keep them both in the Lodge.

    I feel it is also unfortunate that CA, DC and Belgium would deny any Mason the ability to visit or communicate with his brethren for this very same reason. Each state is autonomous for a reason, yet some days it would seem a “National Governing Body” may be needed in order to help settle issues and disputes etc. It would also seem such a governing body could help eliminate the questions of “Real” or “Clandestine” lodges. There are many challenges in Masonry today, and the more we argue amongst ourselves the more we succumb to the loss of our order. Who wants to belong to an organization that can’t even come together in brotherly love. Are we not supposed to let all private animosities give place to affection and brotherly love within the walls of the lodge?

    Before continuing to give grief to a TN Mason, why not try walking in his shoes for a day. How would you feel if you were told you can’t speak to your brethren because some GM didn’t agree with his GM? I don’t think it fair to you or me….

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    1. I am a mason in Tennessee. What bothers me the most is the way the media has made us all look like bigots and whatnot. I do not discuss such issues in a public forum, but rather with well informed brethren in lodge, or with them in a private setting. That said, I don't believe it is right for other GL's to say that us masons can't visit their lodges because of this, because it is nothing more than politics, one of 2 issues to not be discussed in lodge.

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    2. Oliver,
      The actions taken against TN and GA are partially designed to convince brethren in those states to have greater influence over their own leaders.

      If we all operated under a national grand lodge, as you suggest, imagine the TOTAL lack of accountability of a GM in such a position, so far removed from the men he is supposed to be serving. At least a state grand officer has the possibility of being receptive to a membership of 60,000 or less, as opposed to 1.5 million. And imagine the damage that could be done nationwide by a rogue GM, even if only restricted to just one year.

      No, I am just fine with 51 jurisdictions. At least 49 of them can distance themselves from two that are so widely seen as being misguided. (Look at the worldwide reaction to the GLNF over the activities of PGM Stifani in France in 2012, when just one man brought the whole regular world down on his country.)

      Of course I understand that many rank and file Masons in TN and GA vehemently disagree with their GMs. But given the votes taken last year and this, it seems that a larger number agree with their GM. By their votes at GL and their public silence, many of them have obviously agreed with their GMs in these states. That should be very troubling to the rest of us who understand what the Ancient Charges truly say and mean.

      If enough Masons in those states truly DO disagree with their GMs, they should be voting with their feet and wallets and at the ballot box at next year's grand communications. Or by perhaps pleading with CA or DC to charter new lodges in their states and truly bringing this issue to the forefront. That would certainly force the rest of the other 49 US GLs to publicly take sides and do something more substantive than just issue mildly worded scolds on their websites.

      Yes, it would create something of a crisis in US Masonry. But haven't TN and GA done enough at this point to warrant the declaration of a crisis by the rest of us? Many of us thought that before, over the PHA issue and the unofficial (but obviously sanctioned) bigotry against black men in local lodges, as well as the de facto exclusion of black Masons from the AASR and YR because of it. Particularly in the case of PHA recognition, the issue has taken 70 years to be settled, and still 9 GLs have failed to achieve it. I continue to read messages that say "it will take more time." Isn't 70 years enough time? The Civil Rights Act was passed a half century ago, and the country has elected a black president twice. Yet, in many of those 9 states (all but one - WV - are all part of the Old Confederacy), you can count the number of black Masons in mainstream lodges on one hand. That is downright humiliating.

      Now the gay issue has taken front position, because of the topicality of the subject in current events. It's not more important than the racial issue, but they are equally distressing from a masonic point of view. By refusing to allow blacks and homosexuals membership, these lodges and GLs have created barriers to the fraternity that cannot be justified, given our teachings of brotherly love and tolerance. Worse, the gay ban is justified by using Biblical references, in spite of the often repeated fact that many specifically Christian denominations do not ban homosexuals, even in their own clergy. A Masons' religious beliefs are supposed to be kept to himself while undertaking the business of the lodge. Our petitions are silent on both race and sexual preference.

      So why is this even an issue?

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    3. Many of us belong to lodges in several jurisdictions - in my case, a life member in lllinois and Arizona and California and Massachusetts and Texas and others. I think of myself as a Freemason and people think of me as a Freemason, not as an Arizona or Texas mason. The public does not draw the distinction between the geographies and the shame brought by the gay bashing and racial discrimination lands at my door and your door as well as with those wretches like Cutlip who have and are creating the situation. I for one find that intolerable and the time has come for very very vigorous measures. Particularly awful is that in effect we are telling gay brethren that now that their marriages are legal, we can prove they are gay and kick them out, whereas in the past we could only suspect and tolerate it. We are using the affirmation of their rights as the evidence to discriminate and zap them. It is rather like the bizarre idea that if someone can prove they are Brazilian, then they are considered non-black and can join a lodge, and other grotesque discussion over just how African American someone has to be, and how Jewish in the case of rites prohibiting Jews. I dont think we realize how sick we look. We also are dishonest and fakes because we dont explain to possible candidates that - this is one instance recently - they will not be able to visit a lodge in the southern states because they are white but their member brother-in-law is colored. As a professor and president of an international organization, I find this contamination by association to be untenable for anyone in a leadership row in modern America, and I urge everyone not to leave but to rather to vigorously demand, to demand, that this be rectified. It would be a grave misjudgment not to view the situation as serious. A past grand master told me he thought it was as serious as the Morgan Affair, and I agree. For example, the gay community is discussing and mobilizing, and after so many years of struggle will not tolerate our threat to the advances they have made. This is just the start of something which if not addressed will hasten our already desperate membership situation.

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    4. There are five challenges facing American Freemasonry at this moment. Four of them can be resolved, but with pain. The fifth certainly looms, but has to be approached when the current problems are resolved. All of these problems come on top of and along with the relentless decline in membership which is threatening all of our buildings and programs.

      1. Discrimination against gays, and of course an associated challenge with transexuals - Mr. Trump has just this week made all his bathrooms, a reputed 19,000 in his many buildings, open on the basis of your view of your sex rather than your birth gender. Many rest rooms are becoming sexless.

      2. Racial segregation, not only in blue lodges but in the bodies like the Scottish Rite, Shrine, and Eastern Star.

      3. Recognition of jurisdictions which refuse to initiate Jews. This applies both to blue lodges and other bodies.

      4. Recognition of African dictators as grand masters and their use of masonry to consolidate their rule.

      5. Ah. A thorny one. Eventually we have to come to terms with the admission of women. There are a variety of solutions and if we had an intelligent leadership, it is discussable. For now, we have enough on our plate.

      What is alarming is the damage that is going to be done in the next few years. We cant buy enough goodwill with our charities - charities cant generate enough warm feeling to overcome the stink from Georgia and Tennessee and the other states where bigotry thrives. The square and compass are becoming the 2016 swastika or KKK cross. We are squandering our history.

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  27. Jason,
    It is the GMs of GA and TN who brought BOTH religion and politics into the situation, not the four GLs that have withdrawn relations. If TN and GA want to run their affairs in this manner, then other GLs have the right (if not an obligation) to shun them until they change their rules, or until another GL charters lodges in those states.

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    1. Paul, in reference to your comments:

      1. The gay issue and transexual one are actually two completely different subjects and should be separated. I have long believed that the LGBs will come to regret being heaped into the same acronym with the Ts. As far as Masonry is concerned, it's a simple test. If a woman becomes a man by going through hormone treatments and a successful sexual reassignment surgery, then he is indeed a man. There are no breasts, and he has a proper set of plumbing. And the state does in these cases issue new identification papers declaring him to be a man. So, it's not really a question Masonically.

      Check out this very long article by a man who became a woman, and then went back to a man again, and has since been happily married to his wife for 20 years. He argues that transexuals suffer from deep psychological problems that could be better addressed by a qualified psychiatrist, instead of being rushed into gender reassignment by activist psychologists with an agenda.

      http://thefederalist.com/2016/04/21/drop-the-t-from-lgbt/#disqus_thread

      2. Yes, the race issue should have been solved decades ago, and could be fixed by the issuing of edicts annually by GMs. But they have not. So, other GLs need to at last start suspending recognition of these GLs until they can show the problem has been solved. Or yank recognition and charter new provincial lodges within their territories. Let the racists have their private lodges, but finally give the progressive Masons a proper home in their own states.

      3. If you are referring to the Scandinavian GLs, I sadly must agree with you. Christian-only GLs are a gross violation of the Ancient Charges and violate the COGMNA Commission on recognition standards. Unless these GLs can prove they have provisions that allow non-Christians full membership, they must be reprimanded.

      4. The Grand Lodge of Gabon needs to be completely shunned by the Masonic world. We can't do anything about the African GLs led by dictator/Grand masters who are aligned with the GOdF, but we can break with GLs like Gabon and other GLNF derived GLs that allow bloody dictators to be members, officers, and GMs.

      5. Sorry, Paul, but I can't agree with you on the women issue. Regular GLs can point interested women to the GW Union, or LDH or others that initiate women, but they cannot be declared regular and recognized by us. The world is filled with private clubs that separate men and women, and the planet still spins on its axis just fine. We are a fraternity, and introducing women into our meetings and ceremonies causes too many personality issues. And I'll fight that to my last breath.

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    2. I have had only limited knowledge of how transsexuals feel about their treatment, partly out of a reluctance to pry,
      but I did for years know a librarian at Stanford who changed from male to female and we had talks. He did not have full surgery. Of course it could be argued that he was not fully transexual. But he dated went to various university events as a woman, and eventually settled down with a male companion, so my question would be whether the entire physical transformation, especially for what seem to be a growing number of older men/women is necessary or applicable. Arent we in the end dependent on what the individual defines himself/herself as rather than stopping or encouraging growth of hair or breasts or other aspects of the physical situation. I am uncomfortable at having a lodge decide this rather than an individual.

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    3. I disagree. As was pointed out in a recent video that was widely circulated, I could "self-identify" as a 6 foot tall, black, Chinese woman, but it doesn't make me one, and to claim otherwise is an absurdity that is borne out of the peculiar point we are living through in history. Masons have publicly proclaimed ourselves as a male-only organization for coming onto 300 years, and a petitioner who is not legitimately male is fraudulently seeking membership - they must certainly be self-aware enough about reality to know this. If they are gender-confused, the co-Masonic organizations are open to them.

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  28. Chris
    I am a TN mason that has decided to demit from my Lodge. Would love to join another Lodge. But the suggestion of another GL to come in another state would be nearly impossible. Here in the south there is no other GL that are around me that recognizes blacks and or course TN and GA gays. Being 70 years old and my demit will only last a year under TN rules I will be without a home. It is a bitter pill since I was a PM of my Lodge. Hope some other GL will pick up and help some of old progressive mason that still love ideas and ways of our ancient craft. Love your blog because it gives a place where the members of the craft can give their honest opinions without being reigned in by the GM's. Thanks for all the work you do!!! So Mote it Be


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    1. Sam,
      Check out this link to a couple of options. One is UGLE's Internet Lodge. Joining it will make you an English Mason and allow you to travel throughout the regular, recognized masonic world.

      http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2016/03/ugles-internet-lodge-no-9659.html

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    2. Brother I Love You for pointing this out to me!!! i have had such a wonderful resurgence in the Beauty of Masonry when contrasted by TN and GA. I so have my hopes up I will be Affiliated into a DC lodge. Although the UGLE Internet lodge is quite appealing. Thanks again Good Brother!!! And blessings to all the Brothers who are taking to the electrons to oppose this cancer which has infiltrated TN. But please, for the Good of the Craft- Study and Research "Dominionist Theology" and the "Seven Mountains Dominionist cult movement" If you go to Youtube, you will be stunned (I was in tears) at just how much ground they have taken and how easily it has been for the Unwarey have so embraced the Wolves in Sheeps Clothing singing the siren song of National Salvation. Also, I will be happy to correspond with anyone who has any concerns. Blessings. former TN Mason

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    3. Brother Sam; love it if you hit me up. put you in my Google+ circle. I for one think all us TN outcasts should get to know and support each other.

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  29. That is sad. Even more sad...is thats probably what all of the reasonable Brethren in TN and GA will have to due in order to fix the issue. I'm almost wondering if I'll have to do the same here in MN to put the pressure on our Grand Master to take more action.

    My Brother, I would gladly sign your petition if you wished to join here in MN..... My friends call me "Mitch".

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  30. I will be visiting some of our Swedish brethren in Sweden next year.


    It seems there may be an increased interest in Christian interpretations regarding Freemasonry due to recent news events and public opinion among some of our American brethren. This interest seems to extend even beyond the borders of the United States. Fine.

    One Masonic Order outside of U.S. jurisdiction and control which is often mentioned in conversations regarding Freemasonry and Christianity among American Masons, is the Swedish Rite. The website of the Grand Lodge of Sweden offers some good information for foreigners, but for a beautifully written, well balanced article on Swedish Freemasonry, visit PIETRIE-STONES (Review of Freemasonry) at:www.Freemasons-Freemasonry.com/Swedish_Constitution.Html

    The article is entitled, "The Swedish Constitution, Nordic Esotericism in Baroque Splender", written by W.Bro, Dr. Alex G. Davidson. Hopefully, a careful study of this article will give Brothers an understanding (and maybe even appreciation) of why most (if not all) U.S. Grand Lodges, and many overseas Grand Lodges, like the UGLE, recognize the Grand Lodge of Sweden. Their's is a fascinating Masonic heritage Worthy of protection and preservation. And as we old Shriners are fond of saying, "I will do it with time, talent, and means".😀

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  31. As a Pantheist, i had recently move to Tennessee and after being investigated was allowed to transfer into a lodge. soon aftr it was found out that my "Definition of Supreme Being and relgious beliefs", did not fit with the religious edict which was unknown to me. So after huge embarrasment and behind my back fanagling, I was finally able to get a meeting with the GM, truly thinking I could remedy the matter. Nothing could be farther from reality. I found myself hussled into a room with the entire Grand line and the entire powerbody of my lodge. After being told in no uncertain terms by the GA i was out by "being allowed to request a demit so that I could remain in good standing and find a lodge which i would 'be more comfortable in'" i was allowed about 20 words, which I felt strongly was too much as it was, i "followed the counsel" as he ade it clear while scanning the room that he would not want me brought up on charges later if someone so chose to do so"- he said it twice so I was not about to leave the hint to a roomfull of devout followers ignored. So they made sure I verbally requested a Form for a demit be prinnted out and made sure I personally wrote a request, I sign it and 15 minutes later was back in my car. my wife said she had never seen me look like that, like I was kicked in the gut... I was. but the more i looked at things the better the view got. And then when I made some calls i could not help but be actually elated. i then found that GL of Washing DC had a Non resident affiliate program for the outcasts, as do some others. Since Dc is specifically considered "Clandestine" well that suits me just great. I am hoping to find a lodge who will affiliate me, then having a t-shirt made up which says- "Clandestine and Proud!, GL of Wash. D C". then wear it to the next lodge breakfast after that.
    Having said all this, I have done more examining and have become absolutely convinced the entire system, grand lodge and as many others as possible, and others states are definetly under the "7 Mountains Dominionist" cult movement. Hpw to rescue an entire grand lodge from a mental cult compound like this is out of my brains ability. but these guys are sinister and no "Good Mason" would want to be under their control either knowingly or as they work best, subversively. I am ahppy to discuss more if any wish.

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  32. WOW. This ones a dilly. I suppose its up to the conscience of the Brethren from these jurisdictions, their GL's and elected lines to decide for themselves if putting a cross or other significant religious emblem on their pins is an endorsement of one particular religion. As Freemasons we have so may emblems that are ours and that only we can claim, its a bit confusing to me that we would need to use Christian adornments when we literally have hundreds of things emblematical to our craft, that can be used. As a Christian I certainly have no issue with a cross, but in Lodge I don't need to be reminded of that only my obligations. The symbolisms of the craft are all around us and being a Christian is not why we follow them because we are all not Christians, we respect our obligations because we are good men, the internal and not the external qualifications of a man recommend him to Masonry. Nuff said.

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