"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Former Georgia GM Resigns

Former Grand Master of Georgia, Douglas W. McDonald

On February 11, 2019, Douglas W. McDonald, Past Grand Master of Georgia in 2015-16, officially resigned from the fraternity of Freemasonry.  His letter states that he has not demitted, but resigned completely for religious reasons. 

This sort of news is generally confined to the members of a grand lodge, and rarely of any interest outside of that given jurisdiction. However, it's worth mentioning here because regular visitors to this blog may recognize his significance to past events. His letter has already been circulated a bit online, so I'm not really letting a big cat out of the bag.


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While serving as Grand Master of Georgia in 2015, McDonald's very first edict issued during his term was to effectively ban homosexuals from becoming or remaining Masons in Georgia. This was done on the heels of the Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that gave constitutional guarantees for gay marriages. 

The assembled Grand Lodge of Georgia upheld McDonald's edict in 2015, and it became part of their Code.

The resulting international brouhaha over McDonald's edict — along with actions also taken by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee against homosexuals, excluding them from Masonic membership —  resulted in several U.S. and foreign grand lodges suspending amity with those two states. These included the regular grand lodges in the District of Columbia, California, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. Most of those still currently do not permit visitation between Masons in Tennessee and Georgia, although the GL of DC's temporary edicts have expired. Numerous other grand lodges and grand masters also condemned the bans without suspending amity.

The long saga with more links and updates than you may have any interest in may be seen here: Ongoing: Freemasonry and Sexual Behavior Rule Updates

Meanwhile, all the best to PGM McDonald, with the sincere fraternal wish that he finds the spiritual solace, renewal and satisfaction he seeks within his church, instead of in a Masonic lodge, which is not its substitute and was never intended to be.



See also: A Reflection On What Is Tearing Us Asunder

UPDATE 3/5/19, 6:30PM: 
This story was edited  to reflect the expiration of the GL of DC's temporary grand master edicts suspending amity with Georgia and Tennessee. 

30 comments:

  1. “The Common Gavel is an instrument used by operative masons to break off the corners of rough
    stones, the better to fit them for the builder’s use; but we, as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to
    make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of all
    vices and superfluities of this life, thereby fitting our minds, as living stones for that spiritual
    building—that house not made with hands—eternal in the heavens..”

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    1. Outstanding feedback on this quote "Unknown". If God be the head of our Organization and the Spiritual cornerstone of our confession, it is only right and righteous to make that a genuine statement among the Men of our Fraternal Brotherhood. It is said, "To make Good Men Better". Let that be the grace that we fall under as Men of God. But also remember as Men of God, we love everyone in the human form of life, by the divine love that is within us. But we must always remember that love is extended to all, even in their most difficult follies in life. So we can love the sinner, but not the sin. This is not judgment, but things that have been already judged by God who resides in the eternal heavens. I hope these brothers understand that edict and our brother's stance on this issue. I hope in due time their lives will change before that great day. Much Love to All.....

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  2. Unquestionably the equality of beliefs illustrated by letting a candidate pick the sacred text on which he takes his obligation, the widespread presence on the altar of several such texts, the fact that chaplains for Masonic bodies come from many persuasions, the fact that throughout degrees there are retelling of Biblical stories that do not correspond to the Bible versions, indeed the fact that many different versions of the Bible are used --- well, if someone feels their sect is in possession of the real truth, that Jesus or Joseph Smith or Mary Baker Eddy or another figure should be mentioned in readings and devotions and not omitted in the interests of ecumenicity, then there is problem reconciling religion with Masonry.

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  3. The blanket statement that the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia doesn't permit visitation between TN and GA lodges and us is not accurate.

    As was explained to me by MWB Jeffrey D. Russell, PGM, then and now Grand Secretary, when then-Grand Master, MWB Kenneth D. Fuller's term expired, his edict expired with it, and full fraternal relations are restored between our Grand Lodges.

    Further, during MWB Fuller's term, he only suspended fraternal relations, he did not suspend recognition. Individual brothers who are not grand lodge officers were always free to visit. It is official delegations of Lodges headed by their WM or his rep which were not allowed, along with visits by Grand Lodge Officers of those two grand lodges.

    But again, that edict expired when MWB Fuller's term expired, so as far as I know it's back to normal.

    This was explained to me directly by MWB Jeffrey D. Russell, Grand Secretary both then and now. Back then, I was Secretary of LaFayette-DuPont #19. I am now its Worshipful Master.

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    1. Thanks for the clarification. I edited the story to reflect this information.

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  4. I would like to state that this man will ALWAYS be a brother. He took an oath that can not be set aside. I wish him well on his travels, where ever they may lead. The subject of homosexuals has come up. Let me say. If a man is of good character, believes in a God (I do not care what name you use). He should be able to take a knee at the altar of Masonry and become my Brother. As many a Mason has done before. If a Lodge of men trusted me to be a friend and allow me in. Who am I do deny someone else who in all other ways could be worthy

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    1. No, he will not always be a brother. He has left Freemasonry.

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    2. Yes, he will. Once a Mason, always a Mason. He is just no longer a member of the formal lodge structure.

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    3. From the Mouth of our Current Grand Master " you cannot resign from Free Masonry".

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    4. I'd say he never was a Brother to begin with. He never got Freemasonry, and used his time as Grandmaster to divide and violate the ancient charges by interjecting religion and politics into the Lodge.

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    5. Homosexuality has no place in religion or masonry. Both of these should be comprised of moral men seeking to be better, not flaunting and seeking justification for an immoral choice of lifestyle.

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  5. Thanks for the writeup, it brings attention to a subject that causes dire contentions within our Fraternity. If no gays were allowed to become a Mason or continue as one - our Craft as a whole will fall apart because many who are holding these pillars up are gays themselves. Indeed - Freemasonry has never been, nor will it ever be, a substitute for one's own church.

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  6. Well, is the District of Columbia informing potential candidates that if they are gay they will be unwelcome in some jurisdictions? Or is it telling them they are joining a Universal Brotherhood?

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    1. With all respect, why would or should the topic even arise in a normal conversation, unless one side or the other was deliberately attempting to make it a public issue? My understanding has always been that a gentleman’s sex life is never appropriate as public conversation. Now it seems that some wish for it to be the second thing they announce after saying hello.

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    2. i agree with you that it is not a topic per se for normal conversation. But it is easy to see that it could come up if someone was traveling with a spouse, member of a gay chorus or theatre group, or in other ordinary circumstances where it was incidentally part of normal conversation. I dont think it should be necessary for Masons who happen to be gay to have to be any more cautious in their conversation than bisexuals or heterosexuals. In my view, one of the reasons for our continued decline is that on this and other issues we are seen as bigoted and prejudiced and thus unattractive to the young people we desperately need. Of course I fully realize this view is very decidedly not the view of many of our diminishing number.

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    3. But again, why is it the responsibility of the Grand Lodge of DC and its constituent Lodges to inform candidates about other jurisdictions?

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    4. With all Due respect brothers, I grant that it should be a private thing and not part of a general discussion but personally I feel like we as a fraternity are spending more time worrying about membership numbers and being "attractive" to society instead of being MEN of moral character who stand up for what is right or wrong...If a man is not of good charecter then he should not have been allowed into the fraternity to begin with

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  7. Having been a Mason in Massachusetts for over 30 years, I remember some decades ago, when the southern Baptist conference voted that being a Freemason and a Christian were basically incompatible, and many members chose to leave Masonry. We, in Massachusetts were asked to change the outside of our buildings so they no longer said Masonic Temple, and instead said Masonic Hall.
    This eventually blew over and everyone moved on.
    This is not the first time a former Grandmaster has resigned for personal reasons. (Past GM of Maryland did so) Freemasonry, notwithstanding, still survives...
    I hope this decision brings him happiness and peace.

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  8. Each man has to ask himself, sooner or later, why did I join Freemasonry in the first place? Did I join in order to validate or challenge others? Or was it to reach an understanding and learn from others? Only you know your own heart and can supply the answer.

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  9. Having been a Mason for over 45 years, I remember when petitions from men of color were regularly voted down. The Craft successfully weathered that cultural change as it will successfully weather this latest challenge.

    Scottish Rite Creed
    Human progress is our cause,
    liberty of thought our supreme wish,
    freedom of conscience our mission,
    and the guarantee of equal rights to all people everywhere our ultimate goal.

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  10. It is entirely respectable for a person to follow his conscience with regard to his beliefs. It is also easy to interpret the guidance in the VSL to come up with his conclusion. It is too bad that it took him so long to come to this conclusion, but I am glad that he is doing what is right for himself as he understands it to be so.

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  11. Brother Walker, surely if you matriculate at a college you want to be sure the credits can be used elsewhere? If that is not an analogy, then is it rather like passing a driver's test in Delaware but learning later it is not valid in New Jersey? This is a mobile society. It isn't implausible that a gay married couple who are Masons could move to Georgia or Tennessee for job reasons. A Rotarian in Maine would hope to be able to be a Rotarian in Georgia. Pick whatever analogy you feel works, as there are many, but before accepting fees and putting a candidate through the paces, it would seem right to explain that the membership has a Catch 22, so to speak.

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  12. In reference to the idea of saying "Hello" the first time I stepped into a lodge, immediately followed by "I'm gay," it is exactly what I did, and here is why. I am not the type of man that wears his sexuality on his sleeve, though I do know some such men, and I agree wholeheartedly that someone's sexuality is a private matter. However, my intention, as I said that, was to make sure that there would be no misunderstanding, and that time would be saved by everyone involved if I put that card on the table right away.

    It may sound irrelevant to the heterosexuals among us, but it is not. Shortly after I was initiated, I met ladies from the Eastern Stars at a lodge dinner. They did not know about my marital status and assuming I was married to a woman, invited me to encourage my wife to join them. If i had kept my sexuality a secret, I would have had to lie about it. Because I was very new, I simply said "I do not have a wife," which was technically true, though I could not say "I am not married" or "I am divorced" without bending the truth.

    It was very important to me to know from the beginning that I would be accepted as I was. It was also important to me not to lie by omission when I filled my petition, by leaving my wife's name blank. It was important to me to not fear the infamy of being banned from a fraternity that I aspired to join, based on the a secret I might not be able to keep forever. As it turns out, though my Lodge is fairly conservative, the Brothers welcomed me with open arms. Being gay or straight is not an issue we discuss, not because it is taboo, but because it is irrelevant to our fraternal bond.

    The price for silence in sexual matters is unfortunately too high to pay yet. Breaking the habit of keeping private life private, I did mention my sexuality very quickly to my lodge, and would do it again in a heart beat to avoid what happened to a friend of mine. This friend was a member of a blue lodge and four appendent bodies. I met him in the Scottish Rite. I was shocked to hear he was quite suddenly leaving all these organizations that he loved so dearly. As it turns out, he is a transgendered person. I do not know the specific circumstances of his ban from Masonry, so I will not offer any opinion. I just would not want to find myself in his position. Keeping my sexuality secret would have ruined the trust and bond I now share with my brothers, as I would have had to operate around them with a mask on my face and a continuous restraint that would not have allowed me to reveal to them who I was fully. Further, if Masons in Indiana were not tolerant of homosexuality, then Freemasonry was not to be my calling, and I needed to know where I stood on this issue sooner than later.

    What follows does not mean to sound boastful, but I will take that risk. I have embraced Freemasonry as much as it has embraced me. I graduated from the "Illumination Program" in Indiana; just yesterday, I received my Rookie Award and pin; I am working towards the first Ritualist Pin, and enrolled in the Hauts Grades Academy of the Scottish Rite (NMJ), where I am almost ready to move to the second level. I joined my husband's lodge and his sustained support of mine lead it to elect him as an honorary member. None of that could have happened if I had kept my mouth shut.

    I did not mean to derail the main thrust of this conversation, and I apologize if I did. I, too, extend my best wishes to PGM McDonald, though I cannot help but to feel sad for him. It must not be easy to come to the conclusion that 50+ years of his life spent in the service of Freemasonry were a mistake. I wish him well.

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  13. The man has chosen to stand for his personal beliefs. We may not agree with him, but he is to be respected for his honesty, to himself and to us. I hope he finds peace in his decision.

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  14. Brother Bertrand, you deserve a tremendous vote of gratitude from all of us who care about the Fraternity. You are spot on with your remarks. The United Grand Lodge of England has recently been coming to terms with its attitude towards transgender brethren, and one must say it is high time. The transgender Masons I have met have been among the very best Masons I have encountered, perhaps informed by their on experiences in the ideas of diversity and tolerance which are at the heart of the Craft. There has always been a strong Uranian strain in Masonry, going back at least three centuries, and one observes thatanimosity towards it oftn may be from those who find it hard to recognize that their own sexuality is more variable than they want to acknowledge and frightened of themselves. Increasingly we must offer a place where people can be themselves. Might one add that it is absolutely necessary that we offer lodges which women can join, and that day is surely coming. You and your husband

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  15. I meant to add that you and your husband have enriched your lodge by your membership.

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  16. I'm too busy circumscribing my desires and keeping my passions within due bounds towards all mankind.

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  17. I'm missing the connection between the GM's resignation and his proclamation from 2015 and/or his beliefs on homosexuality in freemasonry.

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  18. He was personally hurt and embarrassed while in the grand line when he learned his son was gay and seeing a Mason. It became his mission to ban gays. I was in the grand assembly when he brazenly violated his oaths as a Mason and his sworn responsibilities as GM. His resignation is an attempt to avoid charges and expulsion. That's feom a PM/witness here in GA.

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    1. Your explanation is total BS and you know it!

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