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Friday, December 30, 2016

Art de Hoyos: Is Freemasonry Esoteric?

My friend, Illus. Arturo de Hoyos, posted a thought-provoking message on the subject of esotericism in Freemasonry on his Facebook page last January. As the year winds to a close, I think it deserves a little more circulation in a place that doesn't just vanish the way that service's posts notoriously do. Things tend to come and go in the torrential flood of daily clutter on Facebook, never to be found again, and that is a damn shame because it has sadly replaced far more accessible and organized platforms. I only re-stumbled into this particular message by complete accident.

So, here is Art's post:



“Esotericism is a Matter of Degrees” by Art de Hoyos

Is Freemasonry esoteric, or not? The short answer is “Yes, no, maybe.” Esotericism is any topic “intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.” This certainly applies to Masonry. But on a deeper level, and in a Masonic context, it’s usually taken to mean that our ceremonies and rituals allude to realities and/or truths not generally understood, or which may have a spiritual component to them.

The term is tainted to some people, and acceptable to others; hence, it may not be easy to wholly accept or discard the term ‘esoteric Masonry.’ Like an onion, each ‘esoteric’ layer successively builds upon the other. We can all agree that Masonry is intended to be understood by few, and that it’s a kind of specialized knowledge.

But the question is what kind of specialized knowledge, and are they real “secrets?” Depending upon one’s inclinations, the Master Mason Degree has been interpreted in a variety of different ways by different persons. For some, it’s a story of fidelity; for others, it teaches hope in the immortality of the soul; for still others, it’s a lesson in alchemy; and yet for still others, it alludes to the discovery of entheogens. Some see it as multi-faceted, or a combination of various things. But, as I wrote in my post “The Private Epiphany,” we should avoid trying to enshrine our interpretations as the “true” one.

Since 1717 there have been over 1000 ‘Masonic’ degrees created. The most popular survived and are included in many of the Rites, Orders, Systems we know today. Like a meal, each degree is only as good as its creator. The recipe may include many of the same ingredients as other meals, yet taste completely different. By analogy, we may see many of the same “ingredients” (features) in a number of degrees which teach completely different things. The predilections of a degree’s author affect the content as much as the taste-buds of a chef. The ‘flavor’ of the foundational Craft Degrees in various rites, orders and systems (Webb working, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Swedish Rite, R.E.R., etc.), differs immensely, and in the ‘higher degrees,’ the differences are even more dramatic and pronounced: some are philosophical, others practical; some present allegory, and others offer discourses on symbolism or (quasi-)historical themes. In something like the Scottish Rite, the same degree may have dramatically different rituals, depending upon the jurisdiction (compare, for example the 20th degree in the SJ and NMJ – they are *nothing* alike).

But, when someone describes himself as an ‘esoteric Mason,’ it quite often means someone who sees, and embraces, what appears to be aspects of the ‘Western Esoteric Tradition’ in our rituals; i.e., some affinity to the symbolism of Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Kabbalah, etc.

Freemasonry is an eclectic organization and, at various times, we have borrowed the language and symbols of these and other traditions. The question is, do our rituals really teach these things as ‘realities’ or we use them to stimulate thought—or both? We are repeatedly told not to mistake a symbol for the thing symbolized. In some cases, I believe that is what has happened, while in others, I believe we do indeed have vestiges of other traditions. But even when they are there, they may be only one layer thick on our Masonic onion.

The problem is twofold: some deny any esoteric influences at all (or assert they are just used symbolically), while others claim it’s the main part of the onion. If the matter is open to interpretation (not defined by the ritual itself), who has the “right” to decide?
This much we know: many of Freemasonry’s symbols were used before the modern fraternity existed (1717), and appeared in a variety of books. Some were educational and philosophical (such as the “Choice Emblems”), others were indeed Hermetic (such as Alchemical texts). As I said, we’re an eclectic organization. How many times have you seen the Square and Compasses or All-Seeing Eye used and abused in Hollywood and elsewhere because it looks ‘cool’? Well, I’m willing to bet that at least some of our symbols migrated into the fraternity the same way. An unknown degree maker, in the 1700’s, saw something that looked cool, and dropped it into the ritual. Not necessarily bad, but 225 years later his personal predilection turns into a debate.

Certainly, there are clear examples of “borrowings” from “esoteric” texts. For example, I am aware of an older version (early 1800s) of a Scottish Rite degree which includes a large portion extracted from Cornelius Agrippa’s De Occulta Philosophia (1531-33). If asked if that degree was ‘esoteric’ I would say ‘yes,’ while to its counterpart in a later version or in another Supreme Council, I would say, “no.”

My point is to quit quibbling over such things, and find the common ground where we “can best work and best agree.” If esotericism interests you, that’s fine; if not, that’s also fine. My personal library is well-stocked with enough material on both sides to make anyone think and in favor of, or against, any position.

The important thing is to be well-educated, and understand what we know first. Before you reach for the stars, make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground. Make yourself into someone who can be taken seriously. Learn the facts about our origins based upon what we know.

I sometimes speak about “historical records” versus “hysterical documents.” Before you buy into such fantasies as “Freemasonry descended from the ancient Egyptians,” get a quick education. Here are three books to give you a reality check: 

Harry Carr, World of Freemasonry
Bernard E. Jones, Freemasons Guide and Compendium 
David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century 1590–1710 

When you can speak intelligently about the Old Charges (Gothic Consitutions), early Freemasonry in Scotland, the formation of the first Grand Lodge, and how and when the degrees developed, people may be inclined to listen to you, when you start to talk about more exotic things.

Educate yourself well enough to argue both sides of the argument.

Take due notice thereof and govern yourselves accordingly.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Arkansas's Holiday Surprises

Unfortunately, the Christmas weekend was not a joyful one for all of the Masons in Arkansas.

Alice and I have been traveling a lot over the last six weeks due to family obligations and the holidays, and it has been difficult for me to get to much of anything besides an iPhone keyboard for extended periods. So, I am a little behind in posting up to date information here. However, it seems that on Christmas Eve last Saturday, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM delivered up several suspension letters perfectly timed to drive a sprig of holly straight through the hearts of members preparing to celebrate the birth of the Light of Man with their families. 

Merry Christmas.

The letters contained the traditional (in Arkansas) opportunity to self-expel before any sort of Masonic trial even takes place, but a slightly new wrinkle has been added lately. If a member has any property in his possession at the time of his suspension belonging to his lodge, he is now ordered to turn said property over to the Grand Lodge, which will presumably then pass it along to the lodge, in due time. This includes any access to the lodge's tangible assets. The question immediately springs to mind as to why Little Rock is to now be the intermediary between the suspended member and the property's rightful owners. But I'm sure it's just a technical issue.

As has been pointed out previously, official punishments were at a record high there in 2015: 12 suspensions and a whopping 43 expulsions (in addition to 245 NPD suspensions). They continue to be doled out for offenses as petty as merely "liking" a Facebook post, and it will be of a certain morbid interest to see what 2016's statistics will be.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Arkansas' annual communication takes place in February, and the usual end-of-year mailing to lodges that has traditionally included texts of proposed resolutions, allowing voting delegates the opportunity to read them and discuss them in open lodge with the members they represent, failed to include them this year. Instead, a packet with the resolutions will be handed to delegates as they file into the auditorium, which will prevent any prior chance of careful consideration by delegates, or any input from non-voting lodge members. (One wag online compared it to a famous political reference that they will have to 'vote on it to find out what's in it.')

Another notable item missing from the packet was any provision for a representative "proxy" voter. Some grand lodges have a more complex list of eligible voters at their grand lodge sessions than others. In Arkansas, in addition to the elected, sitting Worshipful Master and the two lodge Wardens, a lodge's immediate Past Master also has a vote for twelve months after the expiration of his term, along with the lodge Secretary. However, Masters and Wardens may send proxies in their stead if they cannot attend in person.

From Section 1.4 of the Arkansas Grand Lodge Constitution:

Sec. 2. Every Master and Warden ought to attend the Annual Communication with the jewel of his office, but if he cannot personally attend, he may send a brother of his Lodge as a proxy, or the Lodge may send one or more of its members as a Representative; each Master and Warden, when present, shall have one vote.
Sec. 3. If only one Representative appears at any meeting of the Grand Lodge of the State of Arkansas, he shall have power to cast the full vote of the Lodge of which he may be the Representative; and if only two attend, the elective officer highest in rank shall cast two votes, and a proxy shall cast the votes only of the officers he represents.
From Section 3.2:
3.2.2 The Worshipful Master of the Subordinate Lodges is, by virtue of his office, a member of the Grand Lodge, and should attend it in person, if not prevented by urgent business or necessity. And if he can not personally attend he may send any Master Mason in good standing of the lodge for which the proxy or proxies are being issued. -Pro. 1911, Pro.2006, p. 24.

3.2.3 Every Subordinate Lodge shall be represented in the Grand Lodge by its officers, representatives or proxies, who must be Master Masons and members of the Lodge which they represent; and such appointment, whether of representatives or proxy, must be certified by the Secretary, and the seal of the Lodge affixed thereto. -Pro. 1856, p. 46.

3.2.4 The Master and Wardens of the Subordinate Lodges, being the proper representatives thereof in the Grand Lodge, should attend in person, if not prevented by urgent business or necessity. If they can not attend, they may appoint proxies to attend in their stead, from among the members of their respective Lodges. -Pro. 1852, p. 6.
3.2.10 If only one representative appears at any meeting of the Grand Lodge of the State of Arkansas, he shall have power to cast the full vote of the Lodge of which he may be the Representative; and if only two attend, the elective officer highest in rank shall cast two votes, and a proxy shall cast the votes only of the officers he represents. Art. 1, Sec. 3, Constitution.
3.2.11 Any Master Mason, in good standing, of the lodge for which the proxy or proxies are being issued, is entitled to represent that lodge as a voting delegate. Pro. 2006, p.24.
Past practice has been that the Grand Lodge office has included proxy forms in the December mailing to permit the assignment by the lodge of proxy representatives. However, this year no such forms were included for the lodge Secretaries to properly sign and seal (as required by their code). The accompanying letter in the packet further stated there would be no further mailings forthcoming prior to the annual meeting. This prevents anyone unable to attend in person from assigning anyone else to cast their vote. (It should be noted that the Grand Secretary has reportedly told several Secretaries who enquired about the lack of forms that they would subsequently be mailed out sometime in the coming weeks before the meeting. To date, no one has reported receiving theirs.)

Word is also coming that the balloting for grand line officers at the annual communication will not be secret this year, but will be done as an open roll call. If true, this will be a major shift from prior practice in previous sessions, and is especially important this year, given that both the Deputy Grand Master and the Grand Senior Warden were suspended earlier in the year, along with a recent Past Grand Master. (Requiring roll call votes instead of secret ones has happened as recently as 2011, so it is not without precedent.) The high profile suspensions, and the enormous number of them within rank and file members as well, have had a chilling effect on any open dissension or discussions. 

It should be noted that over the summer, former Deputy Grand Master Patrick Carr was suspended for 25 years, Past Grand Master Jarrod Adkisson for 30 years, and most recently at the beginning of December, former Grand Senior Warden Aaron South has just received a 27 year suspension. By suspending these brethren for definite time periods, they are precluded by their Code from appealing their sentences at the annual communication. Over the centuries, grand lodges have become very adroit at preventing palace coups attempts of any kind. And Arkansas is especially good at it. If "good" is the proper word.

A pre-formatted document is currently being circulated among Arkansas lodges to begin the process of seceding from their Grand Lodge if the annual communication goes as badly as most believe it will. Meanwhile, the Masonic world outside of Arkansas' own borders continues to watch events unfold with interest similar to the viewing of a car accident. As the very brief event with the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma amply demonstrated in November, it doesn't appear that there will be any outside assistance or pressure brought to bear on the Grand Lodge of Arkansas by other jurisdictions anytime soon. It is ultimately up to their own membership to solve what are seen as their internal troubles. 

Unless a calming presence manages to make his way into the Grand East and cooler heads prevail, that leaves either open insurrection at the annual communication, or another year of turmoil. 



Saturday, December 17, 2016

France Withdraws Amity with TN & GA; Recognizes PHA of Texas

GLNF Grand Master Jean-Pierre Servel 

According to a lengthy report from a Brother who attended the annual communication of the Grande Loge Nationale Française two weeks ago on December 3rd, the assembled brethren voted to withdraw amity with the Grand Lodges of both Georgia and Tennessee. I'm sure there may have been a slight hesitancy to do so, since the GLNF suffered its own spate of massive worldwide condemnation not all that long ago. In the wake of actions by their former GM François Stifani, by 2012 the sole regular, recognized jurisdiction in that masonically diverse country had lost a third of its members, and almost the entirety of the world's regular grand lodges had withdrawn recognition before he finally stepped down (CLICK HERE to read that entire saga). However, the recent controversies over rules and suspensions concerning private sexual matters in Georgia and Tennessee was a bridge too far for the voting French brothers.

On the other hand, they also extended recognition to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas.

The blog Le Myosotis du Dauphiné Savoie - Le Blog de Fidèle d'Amour writes that the GLNF's External Affairs Committee reported (via my own rusty translation, with the assistance of Google Translate):

"For the GLNF, the choice of Regularity is the origin of the existence of our Grand Lodge. Such was the explicit will of its founders in 1913 who wished to restore to Masonry the Masonic Regularity, lost since 1877 as a result of the decisions taken by the Grand Orient. Since then, we are inextricably linked to the universal family of the Regular Masonic Powers... 
The inseparable triptych of "Regularity - Recognition -Territorialy" implies duties and vigilance at all times, both on our territory and against the World Masonic landscape on these topics of regularity. " 
[snip] 
"It is not our role to change society..." 
He then presented a proposal to suspend relations with the American Grand Lodges of Georgia and Tennessee. 
In order to ensure that the vote was carried out in a transparent and, above all, informed manner, he presented to the delegates of the lodges the whole dossier prepared by the members of the External Affairs Committee and the Committee of Wise Persons as follows: 
First, he presented the situation by explaining the context of the edict passed by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia in October 2015, with a view to completing their constitutions in order to be able to go into disciplinary council, excluding those of their members who are gay, considering this as "an offense to the moral law." For accuracy, the article of the Masonic code that was changed already provided a similar penalty of exclusion for masons guilty of adultery or fornication with the wife, widow, mother, daughter or sister of a master Mason (Author's note: with those companions or apprentices, that would be less serious ...!?). The amended section even specified that this act increased the offender's guilt by breaching a Masonic obligation, noting that the woman's lack of chastity was not an excuse for the offender. 
For its part, [the Grand Lodge] of Tennessee, neighboring northern Georgia, had for its part, decided to exclude a couple of brothers claiming their homosexuality, having just married and having published on a social network photos of their marriage. 
[Grand Chancellor Roi] then described how the GLNF reacted, according to the timetable...  
[snip] 
Without calling into question the sovereignty of a Grand Lodge, given the discriminatory nature posed by the two Grand Lodges denying the quality of Masonry towards homosexual Freemasons, it seems impossible to remain neutral because it is a principle of identity that is called into question.
Following the recommendation advocated by the Foreign Affairs Committee a letter signed by the Grand Master was sent June 13, 2016 by the Grand Chancery to the Grand Masters of the two grand lodges concerned that essentially says "It is universally asked of Masons to 'Call for the respect for others, quality of heart, open-mindedness. These [are the qualities that make up] fraternal harmony and the search for Truth, belief in God, the Grand Architect of the Universe and His revealed Will."
 
Recalling that the brothers struck by these edicts do not ask for any distinctive treatment, the Grand Master Jean-Pierre Servel warned that these discriminatory positions are at the opposite of the ideals of Fraternity and respect that the Masons of the GLNF have sworn to [abide by], before warning that if they persisted, it would call into question our bonds of friendship.
The letters to the two Grand Lodges having not received a reply, at the proposal of the Grand Master, the Sovereign Grand Committee members voted in September 2016 suspension of friendship with the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Tennessee.
 
Once this stage had been reached, the Grand Master could ask the Grand Lodge of France to do the same. 
The vote took place last Saturday during the Grand Lodge [communication] and the result was overwhelming, only 2 brothers voting against and 10 abstaining... 
Thus the GLNF joins the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium and the Grand Orient of the Netherlands in the process of suspending the ties of friendship with these Grand Lodges who have a very curious reading of the Bible as Masonic principles. 
The next point was more sympathetic and aimed at deciding on the request for recognition by the GLNF requested by the Grand Lodge Prince Hall of Texas (USA). 
The Grand Chancellor recalled that the GLNF is already in recognition, in addition to the 51 Grand Lodges of State, with 7 Grand Lodges Prince Hall: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina. 
As the Grand Lodge of Prince Hall, Texas, accompanied its application with documents attesting to its full compliance with the criteria of regularity and the list of Grand Lodges having already recognized it, the GLNF wrote to request the agreement of the Grand Lodge of Texas with which we already have ties of friendship to ask them for their agreement on the division of territory between these two Great Lodges (Texas and Prince Hall of Texas), knowing that there was an agreement of recognition between the two Grand Lodges since 23 April 2007 (According to the recognition standards in force at the Grand Loge Nationale Française, when a Grand Lodge abroad requesting recognition is located on the same geographical territory of a Grand Lodge already recognized by the GLNF, we write to ask it whether it sees no objection to this recognition, and whether there is a mutual agreement on division of territory or a treaty to that effect). 
The request for recognition of the Grand Lodge Prince Hall of Texas was presented to the vote of the Sovereign Grand Committee of September 30, 2016 which agreed. 
Consequently, ratification was proposed to the vote of the lodges of the Grand Lodge French National during this same Grand Lodge [communication]: this one was pure and without blemish, unanimous, with a thunderous applause.

There were 2,000 brethren present.

For the updates and links to the entire Georgia and Tennessee imbroglio, READ HERE.

Jersey Masons' Mannequin Challenge Video


English brethren on the Isle of Jersey step up for this Mannequin Challenge video for the Provincial Grand Lodge of Jersey. Nicely done, gents.

The mannequin challenge is a pretty recent internet phenomenon, so it's nice to see Freemasons publicly doing something up to date in terms of fads for once in our collective lives. (It's sort of a no-budget variation of the bullet sequences in the Matrix movies.)

I do notice there's an awful lot of dark blue in this lineup for such a tiny place. You guys just have too much grand rank floating around for me to be totally comfortable.😉*

(BTW, half of my Brother Masons here in the U.S. will shriek in terror when they see a full scale bar downstairs. Can we please get over this?)

*This is officially the first time I have used an emoji in the history of this blog site. Not that I intend to make it a habit. However, I did notice this morning that Google has made some new and VERY welcome tweaks to the Blogger composition tools, including a blessed "remove formatting" button that will make my life much easier from here on. This is only of any interest whatsoever to others who use this free service as I do, but nevertheless, thank you to the great Google gods, wherever they are.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ongoing: Freemasonry and Sexual Behavior Rule Updates


I'm sure everybody is now officially sick of this.
Grand Masters across the US and internationally continue to weigh in on the actions of the Grand Lodges of Tennessee and Georgia regarding homosexual behavior and cohabitation. Instead of making constant, individual posts about this as they are issued, I am going to try to restrict them all to this one single message from now on, and will try to update it as more occur (if they do). Further, I am listing links below to previous posts about the subject, so the whole story can be followed from this one place. New developments are listed chronologically, so scroll to the bottom of the page to see the latest updates.

If a major action DOES occur, such as one Grand Lodge actually suspending Masonic relations with another, that will, of course, warrant its own post, because it's important enough to affect Freemasons in an entire state or two. But the bulk will be put here.

Hopefully, this will finally put a stop to what may look to some like a constant flood, which is not what I intended. It just sort of kept growing. As I have said, I am no gay rights advocate or protester, but I do have my own strong views about it as regards the fraternity


(And to answer a question posed in several emails lately, no, I am not gay. I have happily been with the same lovely woman since I was 17 - coming up on 40 blissful years. Thanks for asking.) 

I am simply trying to keep up with this story as it unfolds.


The Story So Far...






















• 3/14/16: GM of Maine Weighs In

-------------------------------------
UPDATE

3/17/16: GM of Wisconsin Statement
Yesterday, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin F&AM, MW Franklin J. Struble,  issued a statement that was sent to all lodges regarding the position of his GL on lawful homosexual marriages, and his opinion concerning the suspension of recognition by other GLs. 
Click image below to enlarge: 

----------------------------------------
UPDATE

3/18/16: Protesters Outside of AASR House of the Temple

A small clot of protesters appeared yesterday in Washington D.C. on the steps of the Scottish Rite SJ House of the Temple. In a town like DC where mass demonstrations are commonplace, this hardly amounted to more than a minor couple of pests. But it was undoubtedly an annoyance to those having to use the main entrance. A local Brother says friends in a nearby apartment building have observed that they seem to "wax and wane and to attract tourists." 

Another Brother reports that when one of them was asked why they were protesting, he replied, "I'm not sure. We were just paid $15 an hour to be here." 

(Hmmm.  Ever hear of Crowds On Demand? Because that's exactly what this sounds like is going on.) 

Nevertheless, it was trumpeted as a triumph by the  organizers.

From the MasonBigotry website today:
Demonstrators were on scene at the Scottish Rite Supreme Council in Washington, D.C to demand that "Sovereign Grand Commander" Ronald Seale immediately cease awarding degrees to members of the discriminatory lodges in Georgia, Tennessee and elsewhere who openly ban gay and African-American members. By awarding degrees to these members, they are essentially discriminating against the black and the gay communities because they are UNABLE TO JOIN the masons in the first place and obtain the first three degrees needed to receive Scottish Rite degrees. Though this may sound like a complicated issue, at the core of it is the fact that since African-Americans and gays are unable to join these lodges, that any dealings with them to legitimize them are supporting the discrimination. If Mr. Seale does not wish to do this, he could decide to award the first three degrees to African-Americans and gays in the discriminatory jurisdictions. If he does not take either step, he is part of the bigotry. The protests will continue until this matter is resolved--this issues [sic] is far too important for the typical Masonic inaction and pontificating. 


-------------------------------
UPDATE

3/21/16: Nashville TV Story on Upcoming GL of TN Vote

WKRN, the ABC affiliate in Nashville has picked up the story about the GL of TN's upcoming vote on Thursday to remove the  sexual behavior wording from their code

Read or watch it HERE.

----------------------------------------------------
UPDATE

3/22/16: New Grand Lodge of Georgia Code Published with Homesexual Ruling 

Many Masons, both inside and outside of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, have asked what the exact wording was of the Grand Master's Edict #2015-4  that was upheld and became Masonic law in the subsequent annual communication of the GL of GA in 2015. 

Here is the new rule, officially printed as 77.108.1 in the newly published Georgia code book for 2016:



-----------------------------------
UPDATE

3/22/16: National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered' Picks Up  TN Story


The sexual behavior rules in the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's upcoming annual meeting on Thursday moved to the national stage today with the airing of the story on National Public Radio's evening news program, All Things Considered.

To read or listen,  CLICK HERE.

----------------------------------------
UPDATE

3/23/16:  More Nashville TV Coverage of TN Grand Lodge Vote Airs

Nashville's Fox TV affiliate, WZTV-17, has also picked up the story about the vote on Thursday by the Grand Lodge on Tennessee as to whether or not to strike the sexual behavior language from their code.


The Tennessee Grand Lodge of Masons is considering ending its ban on gay members.
 The Masons could vote on the change Thursday.
Matthew Johnson is among the mason who hope the change is made.
"Freemasonry as a whole in the vast majority of cases does not discriminate against homosexuals but we do in Tennessee and in my opinion that's not in line with Freemasonry," said Johnson.
 The issue of gay members came to the forefront last year when the Masons suspended Mark Henderson and Dennis Clark.
Henderson says his lodge knew they were a same sex couple but no one questioned it.
 That changed when the couple got married.
"We're upset about it because there's a lot we put into it to begin with as far as our time our talents and even our funds," said Henderson.
Henderson says he's not sure if he'll come back to the Masons if the organization repeals its ban.
 Chase Geiser is among those pushing for the change.
Geiser demitted from Tennessee's Lodge in protest of the rule.
 "I think it has the potential to change lives for the better and therefore society for the better but I can't. It's unconscionable for me to be a member of an organization that discriminates on the basis of sexuality," said Geiser.
Fox 17 reached out to the Masons Grand Master for comment but that call was not returned.

To read or watch the story, CLICK HERE.

-------------------------------------------
UPDATE


3/31/16: MWBro. David Perry, Grand Master of California, issued a letter via email today, clarifying his reasons for suspending Masonic relations with GLs of Tennessee and Georgia. It reads, in part:


I suspended recognition of these grand lodges for two reasons. First, their actions are a violation of the General Regulations of Freemasonry. Second, their actions threaten the reputation and good standing of our grand lodge. In late February, I met in person and separately with the grand masters of Masons in Georgia and Tennessee. In these meetings, I learned firsthand what was occurring in their jurisdictions. I also used these meetings to explain how the actions of these grand lodges were affecting the Grand Lodge of California. I based my actions on what I learned in these meetings. 
The actions of these grand lodges violate the General Regulations of Freemasonry because they impose a particular religious (if not also political) view on the fraternity. This particular view is not one on which all men in this country agree. No regular grand lodge may do this. Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 and the requirements for recognition make this clear. All grand lodges are sovereign, but under our California Masonic Code, each must adhere to the General Regulations for us to recognize them. Further, the actions of one sovereign grand lodge can affect other grand lodges, as has happened in these instances. 
Within weeks of the actions by these grand lodges, the Grand Lodge of California was the focus of protests and our community partners began to question their association with Freemasonry. Protests took place in front of our Grand Lodge building during the World Conference, at public facilities where we were conducting ceremonies, and at schools and universities where we have established important programs. Our grand lodge was disinvited to public activities as a result. 
Believing that something is wrong, but being reluctant to do anything about it, subjects Freemasonry to a certain understandable scrutiny by Masons and the public. In suspending recognition of these grand lodges, we make it clear that the actions of these grand lodges are wrong and that the Grand Lodge of California does not condone these actions. 

The whole letter is available online HERE, and includes links to supporting documents.

--------------------------------------

UPDATE

4/1/16: The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan F&AM, MW Richard D. Wisely, issued the following statement concerning Tennessee and Georgia yesterday to be read at all stated meetings in his jurisdiction:

(Click to enlarge)



Also on April 1st, MW Bro John C. Green, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of AF&AM of Canada in the Province of Ontario, issued the following statement to members in his monthly communique:
"Recently, some of you have heard about the significant activities of the Grand Lodges of Georgia and Tennessee who recently decided to exclude men from the rights and privileges of Freemasonry on the basis of their sexual orientation. Let me assure you that this Grand Jurisdiction does not agree with such actions. Membership in Freemasonry in Ontario is based on the integrity of an individual under the qualifications with which we are all familiar ie. free born , mature age and well and worthily recommended. The important values or tenets of Masonry are brotherly love, relief and truth. 
The important values of a member of our craft should be tolerance and understanding. Brethren, I want you to consider living the fundamental principles you professed when you became a Mason."

-----------------------------------------
UPDATE

4/13/16: GM of Washington Issues Statement

The Grand Master of Washington F&AM, Most Worshipful Donald G Munks, issued the following statement via the official "Freemasons of Washington" Facebook page:
One of the many lessons we learn in Freemasonry is that it is the internal, not the external qualifications that should recommend a man to be made a Mason. As to additional qualifications, those are clearly defined in the Washington Masonic Code, Section 18.02 ~ 
Every petitioner in order to be eligible for the degrees of Masonry must:  
A. Be at least eighteen years of age,
B. Have the senses of a man, especially those of Hearing, Seeing and Feeling,
C. Be a believer in a Supreme Being,
D. Be capable of Reading and Writing; and
E. Possess no disability in his body that would render him incapable of conforming reasonably what the Degrees respectively require of him. 
The recent actions by the Grand Lodge of Georgia and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee to exclude men due to sexual orientation and premarital cohabitation have cast an unwanted pall upon our beloved Craft, and are contrary to the wisdom of those who long ago forbade the interference of religion and politics from the administration of our Fraternity. It is well to remember that “a Freemason’s Lodge is the temple of peace, harmony, and brotherly love; nothing is allowed to enter which has the remotest tendency to disturb the quietude of its pursuits.” The actions of these Grand Lodges have disrupted that quietude.  
While I as your Grand Master acknowledge the Masonic sovereignty of Georgia and Tennessee to govern their own Jurisdictions, I disagree wholeheartedly with their actions as they are divisive in nature and codify an intolerance that is contrary to our Masonic principles. The Jurisdiction of Washington believes that Freemasonry is indeed the true import of the three great social treasures – Fraternity, Liberty, and Equality. Furthermore, the Jurisdiction of Washington welcomes & values the talents & capabilities of all men who meet our qualifications for membership. The design of Freemasonry is to UNITE men of every sect, country, and opinion; and to conciliate true friendship among those who would otherwise remain perpetually at a distance.  
We are stronger for that diversity.

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UPDATE

4/18/16: Grand Master of New Hampshire Issues Statement

The GM of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire issued a statement on the issue on April 16th (Click images to enlarge):


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UPDATE



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UPDATE

5/11/2016: Somebody Didn't Get The Memo

I was poking around on the web today and came across a current website for a recognized lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Georgia. The page has been regularly updated, but somehow the following note still exists under "How Do I Become A Mason?":
Can homosexuals be Masons? 

Yes, and there are homosexual Masons. 
There is, in this instance however, the additional consideration that some men may view homosexuality as being immoral, i.e., that homosexuals are not men of "good character". This is generally not due to any specific prejudice but rather due to religious belief (depending on how one interprets St. Paul, for example).  
There is no official Masonic stance on the matter so, in practical terms, the determination of whether homosexuality is a moral or biological (or neither) consideration, as in society in general, is apt to vary by lodge. 

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UPDATE


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UPDATE

5/17/2016: Immediate Past Grand Master of Indiana Addresses GA and TN Issue

From the immediate PGM of the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, William A. Reiners'  address to the assembled Worshipful Masters at Indiana's Annual Communication today:

"The current relationship between the Indiana Grand Lodge Jurisdiction and all other Jurisdictions remains intact, but the actions of Georgia and Tennessee have caused California and Washington D.C. to suspend fraternal relations. Sectarianism, the placing of ones belief’s ahead of others in a group including Masonry, has been one of the areas prohibited in the Lodge from the beginnings of organized Freemasonry. As Grand Master, I have determined there is none of the language found in Tennessee or Georgia requirements for membership in our code. Any good man, and coming well recommended, is not disqualified based on race, ethnicity, religion (so long as he believes in a supreme being) or sexual orientation. Remember, after the investigation, there is the ballot; I would hope no Mason would vote against a worthy petitioner for any of the above reasons. They are not a Masonic offense. 

"Fifty years ago I attended the national meeting of my college fraternity. The main question was to lift the rule that all members had to be white and Christian. It was a far different time, but brothers, for the whole country, put their personal feelings aside, and the ban was lifted. I cannot believe that in a way, I am still engaged in a similar problem today. "
A similarly worded statement by Reiners appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of the Indiana Freemason magazine. In that, he added:
"This issue personally pains me, because I am friends with both the GM and immediate  PGM of GA and TN. I know each are good Masons, but in my opinion, PGM Hastings has inserted sectarianism into his Lodges. His actions were upheld at their Annual Communications in March [sic]. As I said, when I was installed, younger Masons are, for the most part, color-blind as well as accepting of gays."

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UPDATE 

5/30/2016: Phony Protester From San Francisco World Conference Event  Reveals They Were Hired

Davy Rothbart who was a participant in the gay rights protest at the World Conference of Grand Masters in San Francisco last year reveals that their group was not exactly deeply committed to their cause. In fact, they were hired by an outfit called Crowds On Demand, who specializes in providing phony crowds for political causes, celebrities, or anything else its clients want to make seem to be "important."

Rothbart tells specifically about the Conference event in detail in an article in The California Sunday Magazine.


As I crest the hill at California and Taylor, I see elegantly dressed older couples streaming into a palatial white building. Photographers and TV news cameramen swarm around each pair, while a reporter blocks their path, bombarding them with questions. Getting closer, I realize that this isn’t a TV reporter — it’s Adam wielding a reporter’s hand-held mic.

“What’s your opinion on the Georgia edict?” he shouts at a couple in their 70s who veer around him, making a beeline for the front door.
“No comment,” the guy says. “We’re from Greece.”
“No comment?” Adam shrieks, as they duck into the building. “What are you saying? Greek people can’t stand up against bigotry?”

He spots me and comes over to say hi, making note of my lateness. Breathlessly, he gives me a hurried orientation. This is the California Memorial Masonic Temple, where Masons have gathered for their annual world conference. Recently, the Georgia grand lodge passed a bylaw — known as the Georgia edict — prohibiting homosexuality among its members. Our job? To pose as a TV news crew, confront Masons as they arrive for the opening gala, and challenge them to take a stand. “Just watch me for a few minutes,” Adam says. “You’ll figure it out.”

Sprawling camera crew in tow, Adam intercepts the Masons and interrogates them as they struggle to rush past him. Most ignore his questions, but now and then a couple stops to talk. “It’s a state’s rights issue,” a courtly, silver-haired man from Florida tells him. “Do I agree with what they’re doing in Georgia? No way. But one of the main things about Masons is, we don’t interfere with other chapters.”

Adam inches closer to the guy, raising his voice. “If you don’t agree with it, isn’t it your duty to stand up and say so?”
The guy shrugs. “I’m not a lodge master.”

Adam goes berserk or, as I observe him more closely, puts on a controlled show of going berserk. “What an embarrassment!” he shouts. “Listen, I go to the Equinox gym in Santa Monica. If the Equinox in Boston bans gays, I’m damn sure going to do something about it!”

Two cops barrel over, a burly male and a spike-haired female. The male cop says, “Hey! You guys can do whatever it is you’re doing. That’s your right. But knock off the swearing! There are kids around.”

Adam wasn’t really swearing, and there are no kids in sight. Left momentarily speechless, Adam allows the Florida Mason to hurry up the temple’s front steps.

Adam turns to me. “All right,” he says. “You got the idea?”




UPDATE

8/6/2016: California Cryptic Masons' Illus. GM Responds To Georgia and Tennessee Situation

The California Grand Council's Sword and Trowel magazine for the month of August features Most Illustrious Companion, Grand Master William Price’s letter to all California Cryptic Masons re Grand Master David Perry’s Edicts on Tennessee and Georgia.

(Click image to enlarge)








UPDATE

10/25/2016: Homosexual Ban Remains In GL of Georgia Following Vote at Annual Communication



UPDATE

12/17/2016: National Grand Lodge of France Withdraws Amity With Georgia and Tennessee Over Homosexual Rules