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


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Idaho Mason Expelled

An Idaho Mason has been found guilty in a Masonic trial for being associated with a new, irregular and unrecognized lodge in Boise. Krispen Hartung was tried by Boise Lodge No. 2 on August 13th for un-Masonic conduct, after disclosing his position as the new Venerable Master of Praxis Lodge F&AM of the Grand Orient of the United States of America.

Praxis Lodge was established last year, and meets in a local movie theater. They currently claim to have ten members.

Hartung was a regular member of Boise Lodge No. 2, and had attempted to demit last year. However, he still desired to retain his membership in the Shrine. Since membership in a regular, recognized lodge is a requirement for the Shrine, he tried joining Idaho Research Lodge No. 1965, as a way of satisfying the requirement. Research lodges are not, as a general rule in the U.S. (or anywhere else), considered as anything but special purpose groups that also require membership in a regular lodge under their chartering jurisdictions. So, when Hartung applied a second time for a demit this year, there was a delay while his lodge and the Grand Lodge of Idaho AF&AM considered their own positions. Rather than grant a demit, they called for a Masonic trial. Hartung was in violation of Idaho Masonic law as soon as he affiliated with Praxis.

While Hartung gave an impassioned defense of his position, he was found guilty and expelled. Membership in mainstream Masonic organizations is partially predicated on a belief in a Supreme Being, with a volume of sacred law on lodge altars, male only, no discussion of politics or religion in lodge meetings, and honoring the sovereignty of a grand lodge's territory within its agreed upon borders. The Grand Orient of the USA does not require any of these longstanding Masonic stipulations to be adhered to. By its very nature, Hartung's membership in a newly constituted lodge from a foreign jurisdiction immediately placed him in violation of his obligation.

The GOUSA is affiliated with the Grand Orient de France, which is unrecognized by the overwhelming majority of mainstream Freemasonry worldwide. Mainstream Masons should know that the Grand Orient of the United States is attempting to spread across the country, and the Internet has made it easier for them to disseminate their message. Despite their claims of a long heritage, the GOUSA is just over two years old, and received a treaty and patent from the Grand Orient de France in June 2008.

If you are not a Mason, and are looking to join the Freemasonry that is recognized the world over as regular and the legitimate heir to the traditions of the lodges that formed the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717, click here to find the regular, recognized grand lodge for your state or region, as well as links to the historically African-American grand lodges of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Be aware that membership in groups like the GOUSA does not allow you to travel and visit more than a tiny handful of these new lodges, and that the overwhelming majority of the world's Masons will not regard you as a legitimately recognized member. Only you can answer for yourself how important that is to you.


  1. Thanks for the update!
    just so you know, one of our GOUSA/Halcyon guys is in Europe and is having no problem having Masonic ellowship with other Orient Masonry. So to paint the picture of "how small the masonic world is" for someone joining an Orient Loge is a little biased. Orient Masons have been having Fraternal relations and fellowship world wide for centuries.

    Brother Hartung followed his conscious, which all good Americans should do.

    As tothe lineage to 1717 Freemasonry, I amm sure our Masonic forefathers in America were discussing politics and religion in their meetings, so why American's felt the need to deviate from the First American Freemasons is still a mystery?

    Again, bravo Bro Hartung! I love when in America a Man is tried for being an Atheist!

    God Bless America!
    Bro Tom Coste
    Raised in a regular Lodge, but chose to practice Unrecognised Orient Masonry.
    Halcyon 2

  2. Tom,
    Freemasonry descended from the Grand Orient de France is indeed worldwide. It is also universally considered irregular, and thus, unrecognized by the overwhelming majority of Masonic jurisdictions around the world. That's not a bias, nor is it an exaggeration. It is a much, much smaller Masonic world that is open to a Grand Orient Freemason, and you know it.

    It is true that the Grand Orient of France has 50,000 or so members, and is the largest of over a dozen grand lodges at work in that country. My guess is that the GOF's recent decision to allow women to join their lodges will have just the opposite effect their leadership hopes for, and will cause an exodus to the male-only obediences in that country. Let's see after a decade or so where that shakes out.

    In the US, the Grand Orient of the USA is largely insignificant in the Masonic landscape. I do not deny anyone the right to seek intellectual and philosophical light wherever they choose. What earned the GOF's ire in the Masonic world is partially what makes the upstart GOUSA a shunned experiment: among the very first precepts of Freemasonry are a belief in a Supreme Being, a volume of sacred law on the altar, and a male only membership. Those are drilled into the core beliefs and laws of the fraternity. If you change them, you may very well go through the motions, rituals, symbolism and other trappings of Freemasonry, but you have fundamentally transformed it into something different. It might be perfectly laudable. But it isn't Freemasonry anymore.

    As to your other remarks, I absolutely disagree that our American Masonic forefathers were discussing politics and religion during their Masonic meetings. The rules said they were not supposed to, and I suspect they held to those rules. Once the gavel fell, and the food and drinks were delivered, that's a different story. Also recall that Masonic halls were once popular public locations for political debates and orations. I see no modern deviation at all, except perhaps among those Masons who try to expand the prohibition of such discussions beyond a tyled meeting. That's misguided and not at all what our rules say.

    As for your loving "when in America a Man is tried for being an Atheist!" I am unsure why you would purport to love such a thing. If I read his manifesto correctly, Mr. Hartung joined Boise Lodge No. 2 under false pretenses: if he was an atheist when he joined, that would mean that he lied to the men of his lodge, and he lied at the altar at least three times. And then he violated his obligations when he formed a new GOUSA lodge while still a member. Masons require a belief in God so that a man's word can be taken to have some meaning. If you swear to God and you don't believe in one, then you can blithely break your word anytime with no ramifications.

    So, the rules of Masonry are that a man have some belief in a Supreme Being. Yes, that means we don't allow atheists to join. It doesn't mean an atheist is a lousy person without honor, worth or intelligence. Quite the contrary. But it is a requirement, nonetheless, and if you eliminate that requirement, you have cut one of the legs off of the institution. It's one more symptom of the post WWII generation that rules need to be changed to account for everyone's extra-special *specialness*. Mr. Hartung's case clearly demonstrates that.

    The GOUSA Masons have gone and created their own club that is free to pitch out longstanding tenets of Freemasonry in order to fit their own vision of what they think the fraternity should be. These kinds of schisms have been going on since Freemasonry transformed itself from operative to speculative. If you are happy in your group and your brand of Freemasonry is fulfilling your needs, good for you. Knock yourself out. But potential members wandering in off the street should know that such groups are tiny, and are not a part of the Masonic world at large. That's not an insult, it's just facts.

  3. Thank you for the exposure, Chris.

    It is much appreciated.



  4. I wouldn't regard it as praiseworthy, but more as a bad example. In any case, knock yourself out.

  5. "Masons require a belief in God so that a man's word can be taken to have some meaning."

    This same bigoted stance was used to keep atheists and agnostics from testifying in courts in the early 20th century and prior. Are we really that far behind in our thinking? "Farther!" cries Dixieland, where Prince Halls aren't even considered 3/5 of a Mason. What irony it is to be chided for not insisting upon the Fatherhood of God by those who don't practice belief in the Brotherhood of Man.

    Praxis Lodge

  6. Depends on the audience, as "praiseworthy" is a relative notion. The fact of the matter is that there is a definitive target audience that is attracted to the principles, secular nature, and worldview of Grand Orient Freemasonory, and this type of exposure is what brings them to us. So, again, I thank you for the free marketing. :)


  7. Our lodge never allows political talk during lodge time, but we certainly do after! I had a great time recently at a local establishment called Union Jack's with 2 brothers on one side of the political debates, 2 on another, and 1 that was more than happy to just listen. It was perfect! At the end, all the worlds problems were closer to being solved, and everyone still respected each other. That's something you don't find in every organization!

  8. Facts are not insulting.
    none taken.... any fledgling org is small and inconsequential at first, and we realize that.

    This not the time or place for heritage/lineage discussion. But I like the History of GOdF, and the fact that we are tied to them now.

    The lack of ability to "travel" in the states to Lodges is not that big of deal either. Most of come from "regular" Lodges, and willfully chose to left. So we know what happens in these Lodge meetings and felt that not being able to attend regular Lodge's meetings would not be a loss.

    Outside the staes, most masons are not as "hung up' on being seperate because of obedience and intervisit most of time. America is the place where the members adhere zealously to "recognition" rules and reg's, just look at the southern states!

    Again, I love seeing a grown man stand by his convictions instead of not even thinking about it and just going along with the flow, just to be able to be one.

    Atheism is so scary that we really need to keep them at bay.
    Good Luck on your speaking tour.

    Bro Tom C
    Halcyon No.2

  9. Jeff:
    Bleat all you like about the unfairness towards atheists. But if the fundamental requirement of a group is a belief in a Supreme Being, you are barking up a dead horse. Move on and find a group more to your liking, instead of hurling thunderbolts at the group that won't budge from its core values.

    One man's free marketing is another man's warning bell. In any case, I would be interested to know how you squared essentially lying on at least five occasions as you progressed through the degrees by affirming a belief in God, and then holding yourself up as a just and upright Mason. If atheism is your personal view, why did you join a regular lodge? Just curious what sort of philosophical gymnastics were required.

    If Kristen had really stood by his convictions, he would have stopped his own EA degree when he was asked in whom he put his trust.

  10. My masonic standing continues an unbroken family line that extends at least back to the French and Indian War (aka 7 Years War) c. 1754. I'm proud of my membership and of that heritage. The Blue Lodge, however, is in sad repair -- numbers are dwindling and membership is abysmal, as all members know. Most lodges are little more than geriatric wards (I myself am 60). This is, IMO, a sign that we are on the wrong path. Times they are a changin' and whatever is not changing is dying. Freesmasonry has adapted its charges and it's public face many times over the years. It's time, once again, to regenerate and raise the moribund corpse to new light. The Grand Lodge of Idaho should, I believe, recognize and fellowship with the Grand Orient and we should reform our own policies, especially the sexist and chauvanistic rules many of which were adopted in reaction to the fearful 19th century antimasonic movements. Small-minded and fearful reactions such as the expulsion of this worthy brother will bring nothing but misfortune, well-deserved contempt and the continued death of our time-honored movement. My two cents rendered with respect to all concerned. Bro. Ken

  11. Please explain specifically what "sexist and chauvanistic rules" were adopted in reaction to 19th century antimasonic movements. You're going to have a really tough time defending that statement.

    I am not shocked, dismayed or given to fits of apoplexy over the concept of female Freemasonry, and I am not driven to distraction over the emergence of groups like the Grand Orient of the USA. The people involved were dissatisfied with the Masonic experience they found in the regular, recognized Masonic universe, so they sought something that better suited them. That's fine with me. (Although bogus peddlers and liars like Brad Cofield and his "1613 Nation" need to be exposed by all of us. Make something real besides a hundred phony websites.)

    I always reflect on the philosopher Groucho Marx' line, "Well, I took four years at Vasser." "Vassar? But that's a girls' college!" "Yes, I found that out the third year. I'd have been there yet, but I went out for the swim team."

    Why does a male-only institution (Freemasonry, Boy Scouts, VMI, etc) always seem to equate in a small sliver of the population to being misogyny, yet female-only institutions seem to be suffused with the rosy glow of hallowed specialness?

    Or to cite another example, there always seems to be a noisy movement to allow women to be Catholic priests, but I've never heard of any men who wanted to become nuns, outside of the movies "Bedazzled" and "Nuns On The Run".

    Nothing stops female and co-Masonic groups from expanding in the US. They have been incredibly slow to do so historically, but perhaps that will change in the future. But I see no reason to exert pressure on the existing all-male grand lodge system to welcome female members.

    I have the benefit of having attended an all-male Jesuit high school for two years, which went co-ed in my senior year. Throwing aside the abrupt collision of teenaged testosterone and hormone driven encounters, I can tell you firsthand that there is a huge difference in the group dynamic between an all-male or all-female group, versus a co-ed one. Not bad, but very, very different. If you see Freemasonry as nothing but a philosophical line of study, it makes no difference. But successful Masonry is far more complex than that, and the fraternal bonding aspect is every bit as important as the epistemological, charitable, and symbolic sides.

    This also gets back to why I am not a big fan of the "seven guys marching in their socks in somebody's living room" version of Masonry, that proclaims they have it right, and 2 million of the rest of us are doing it wrong. It's a kind of smug arrogance that flies in the face of what a "fraternity" is designed to be. Rotarians and Lions, NRA enthusiasts and Sierra Club members can find literally millions of fellow members the world over, just like Masons can. The difference is the whole package that goes to make up who and what we are. And while I love seeing my friend Janet Wintermute in Washington, or hope one day to meet Karen Kidd if I ever make it to Oregon, there will never be the kind of instantaneous fraternal bond with them that I have when I meet a total stranger in a London Underground station or a Paris bistro or an Atlanta hotel who sees my ring and greets me like we've known each other for years.

    It's just different, and always will be.

    And recall that, even in France where female Masonry has existed in one form or another for more than 250 years, females only make up 17% of the Masonic membership. Just sayin.

  12. Oh jeez Hodapp, you just can't help but bait. You must be thinking of me a lot as you seem to always be bringing me up out of thin air.

    The fun part is that your actions actually betray how little you actually believe in your formal position. If you really believed that the 1613 did not exist you wouldn't even think about it, let alone mention it.

    For an example. I don't believe in Bigfoot. As a result I don't blog about Bigfoot, I don't dedicate specific "warnings" about Bigfoot, nor do I salivate at the mention of Bigfoot by others.

    I understand and respect your P.O.V. After all, you get paid for it. Capitalism 101, if there is anything I endorse it's free enterprise.

    I would like to echo Bro.Hartung in thanking you for all of the free publicity.

    IN LVX,
    1613 Nation

  13. Why doesn't self-declared "Regular Masonry" take on the illegal exclusion of Prince Hall Masons? Why do you still allow 10 Grand Lodge Jurisditions to practice bigotry, hate and racism?
    You are more concerned about eating your own membership because they refuse to kneel to Grand Lodge tyranny.
    Clean out your own close first before you judge self-righteously.

  14. I appreciate how Kris Hartung grappled actively with his discomfort over exclusionary forces (prejudice) within Masonry. He went to bat for the core ideals of the Craft by trying to blaze another Masonic path.

    As a woman who is descended from generations of Masons, I did not have the option of joining an all-male lodge. Yet members of Praxis Lodge in Boise welcomed me warmly into their number, extending their friendship and support.

    I would like to say: Bravo, Kris and other founders of Praxis. No effort that is based on pursuing the good is ever wasted. Ripples continue to spread forward through time from every brave and generous gesture. To you all, I continue to admire your principled struggle for equality and freedom of conscience. Thank you, Praxis.
    -- J. Christina Hodgson


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